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Fire Destroys Canaan Home

Firefighters Battle Blaze, Frigid Temperatures

  • Canaan firefighter Dillon Mock, left, throws a charred timber out of the burnt wreckage of a home in Canaan, N.H. on January 1, 2014. Firefighters from Enfield, Canaan and Grafton fire departments responded to the blaze, in which three cats are believed to have perished. Nobody was inside the home at the time. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)

    Canaan firefighter Dillon Mock, left, throws a charred timber out of the burnt wreckage of a home in Canaan, N.H. on January 1, 2014. Firefighters from Enfield, Canaan and Grafton fire departments responded to the blaze, in which three cats are believed to have perished. Nobody was inside the home at the time. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Firefighters use water to put out any remaining embers in the remains of a home in Canaan, N.H. on January 1, 2014. Firefighters from Enfield, Canaan and Grafton fire departments responded to the blaze, in which three cats are believed to have perished. Nobody was inside the home at the time. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)

    Firefighters use water to put out any remaining embers in the remains of a home in Canaan, N.H. on January 1, 2014. Firefighters from Enfield, Canaan and Grafton fire departments responded to the blaze, in which three cats are believed to have perished. Nobody was inside the home at the time. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Canaan firefighter Dillon Mock, left, throws a charred timber out of the burnt wreckage of a home in Canaan, N.H. on January 1, 2014. Firefighters from Enfield, Canaan and Grafton fire departments responded to the blaze, in which three cats are believed to have perished. Nobody was inside the home at the time. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)
  • Firefighters use water to put out any remaining embers in the remains of a home in Canaan, N.H. on January 1, 2014. Firefighters from Enfield, Canaan and Grafton fire departments responded to the blaze, in which three cats are believed to have perished. Nobody was inside the home at the time. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)

Canaan — After celebrating New Year’s Eve in Boston, Heather and Bryan Tenney were driving home when they received a call that their two-story home was on fire.

The couple was driving through Concord and by the time they returned to their Canaan home, all that was standing was the front and side walls of the structure.

Canaan firefighters were called to Jerusalem Road at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, and as Canaan Assistant Fire Chief George Lazarus drove north along Route 118 to the fire, he could see smoke billowing into the sky.

When firefighters arrived, they found the back of the structure engulfed in flames and fire shooting out of a front second-story window. A car was parked in the driveway, which immediately worried officials that someone could be inside. But the Tenneys and their 17-month-old son were miles away. Three of the family’s cats were likely inside the home and are missing, but the couple’s dog was staying at a relative’s house.

“It’s still burning,” Bryan Tenney said after he arrived home and saw the thick gray smoke.

Lazarus called the home a total loss.

As dusk turned to dark, three firefighters stood at the edge of the property behind a white picket fence and used a hose to spray what was left of the charred house. The back wall and the roof were nonexistent, but lone wooden frames stood on the left side. White smoke billowed out of the damaged structure and bright orange flames could be seen through a first floor window.

The Tenneys watched as the right exterior wall fell to the ground. Firefighters later pulled down the left exterior wall with a rope and knocked over the front wall until all that remained was a pile of charred debris, which the firefighters picked through with pipe poles to look for hot spots.

Lazarus could not determine a cause of the fire Wednesday night, and said he likely wouldn’t know a reason until today. However, Lazarus said a furnace and a pellet stove sat in the section of the house that was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.

The fire remains under investigation.

Firefighters were also called to the Tenneys about a year ago for a pellet stove fire. But 33-year-old Bryan Tenney said he installed a new pellet stove a few months ago.

The Tenneys bought the home three and a half years ago as a foreclosure and “gutted it,” replacing floors, walls, carpets and appliances. The couple stood outside with their son in a stroller as they watched firefighters knock down the exterior walls to their home.

The Tenneys said they would stay with Heather Tenney’s parents, who were at the scene, Wednesday night.

“It could have been worse,” 27-year-old Heather Tenney said. “We were gone. We could have been inside. Our dog could have been inside.”

The fire was called in by a neighbor, and it brought in responders from Canaan, Enfield, Grafton, Rumney, Etna, Hanover and Lebanon. Officials closed Jerusalem Road for several hours. At 6 p.m. fire crews had battled the blaze for two hours, and Lazarus said firefighters would stay on scene for another two hours.

Temperatures dropped to single digits Wednesday night, meaning that fire hoses were at risk of freezing. Firefighters kept their hoses running even when they weren’t fighting the fire to prevent any issues. That caused water to pool in the property’s front yard and run down the road, turning an already slick road into a thick patch of ice.

When temperatures are so cold, it’s important to continuously circulate water in the pumps so it doesn’t freeze.

There’s no doubt that single digit temperatures makes fighting fires more difficult, Lazarus said, but he added that it’s never easy fighting fires, even in the summer.

Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.