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Hanover Fire Leaves Siblings Homeless

Fire fighters Jay Whitehair, left, and Brian Ellstein, of the Hanover Fire Department, carry gear to the scene of a house fire on Greensboro Road in Hanover, N.H., on April 13, 2014. (Valley News - Will Parson)

Fire fighters Jay Whitehair, left, and Brian Ellstein, of the Hanover Fire Department, carry gear to the scene of a house fire on Greensboro Road in Hanover, N.H., on April 13, 2014. (Valley News - Will Parson)

Hanover — A Greensboro Road single-story ranch house was destroyed in a fire Sunday afternoon.

Firefighters from three area departments, Hanover, Lebanon and Hartford, responded while Norwich and Lyme departments covered the Hanover station.

Hanover Police Sgt. Brad Sargent said he suspected the blaze stemmed from an electrical problem and that he did not think it was criminal in nature.

The home’s residents, brother and sister Ross and Julie Dougal, were displaced, but no one was injured, he said.

The fire accelerated the Dougals’ departure from the property, from which they were scheduled to be evicted by June 2, said Town Manager Julia Griffin.

“It’s a sad situation,” she said.

The Town of Hanover took the Dougals’ property deed in 2011 in lieu of unpaid property taxes and water and sewer bills, she said.

Griffin said the siblings grew-up in the larger of two structures on the 1.5-acre property, which is assessed for $218,600. The 1,760-square-foot cape has since been converted into two rental units, which are uninhabitable now.

The smaller, 950-square-foot ranch, in which the siblings were living at the time of the fire, “was beyond salvage when we took it for deeding,” she said.

Griffin, who was on-scene on Sunday, said firefighters had a difficult time entering the house to attack flames from inside because it was “so full of stuff.”

She said the town knew of the building’s instability and had tried to evict the Dougals more than a year ago, before relenting.

“We’ve been worried all winter,” she said, pointing to particular concerns about the snow load on the structure’s roof.

The town’s intention is to sell the property and to direct the proceeds to cover the Dougals’ back taxes, said Griffin. After the siblings’ bills are paid, Griffin said she would like to return the remainder to them.

Following Sunday’s fire, Hanover provided the Dougals with vouchers to stay at the Super 8 in White River Junction, said Griffin.

She said she hopes to pull together state and social service agencies to find them alternative housing.

“They had a place to stay in; now they don’t,” she said. “Our goal is to prevent them from becoming homeless.”

A Super 8 receptionist indicated that the Dougals had not yet arrived by 7 p.m. Sunday evening.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.