Massive fire burns Claremont warehouse 

Claremont Fire Chief Jim Chamberlain, right, speaks with Claremont firefighter Kyle Lizotte at the scene of a major fire on Saturday night at a warehouse off of Sullivan Street in Claremont, N.H., on August 6, 2023. Over 20 departments responded to the three-alarm fire. Chamberlain said the fire was difficult to put out because the 40,000 square-foot building is nestled between a steep embankment and the Sugar River. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Claremont Fire Chief Jim Chamberlain, right, speaks with Claremont firefighter Kyle Lizotte at the scene of a major fire on Saturday night at a warehouse off of Sullivan Street in Claremont, N.H., on August 6, 2023. Over 20 departments responded to the three-alarm fire. Chamberlain said the fire was difficult to put out because the 40,000 square-foot building is nestled between a steep embankment and the Sugar River. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Geoff Hansen

Embers smolder in the eastern end of a 40,000 square-foot warehouse off of Sullivan Street along the Sugar River in Claremont, N.H., on August 6, 2023. Claremont Fire Chief Jim Chamberlain said a smoke investigation was called in at 5:50 p.m. Saturday night, which spread to a fire and it was put out by 12:45 a.m. Sunday morning. Over 20 departments responded to the fire because of the building’s difficult access. “It was an extensive, extensive operation,” Chamberlain said. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Embers smolder in the eastern end of a 40,000 square-foot warehouse off of Sullivan Street along the Sugar River in Claremont, N.H., on August 6, 2023. Claremont Fire Chief Jim Chamberlain said a smoke investigation was called in at 5:50 p.m. Saturday night, which spread to a fire and it was put out by 12:45 a.m. Sunday morning. Over 20 departments responded to the fire because of the building’s difficult access. “It was an extensive, extensive operation,” Chamberlain said. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News – Geoff Hansen

Firefighters battle the warehouse fire blaze off Sullivan Street in Claremont, N.H., in a photograph taken by Kurt Zentmaier, the building's property manager and former owner of the property, on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023. (Courtesy Kurt Zentmaier)

Firefighters battle the warehouse fire blaze off Sullivan Street in Claremont, N.H., in a photograph taken by Kurt Zentmaier, the building's property manager and former owner of the property, on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023. (Courtesy Kurt Zentmaier) Courtesy ofKurt Zentmaier

By PATRICK O’GRADY

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 08-07-2023 2:02 AM

CLAREMONT — A storage warehouse sustained significant damage in a fire that broke out west of downtown just after 6 p.m. Saturday and drew a response from more than 20 area fire departments.

When the first crews arrived, the building was heavily involved in flames on the left side, according to a statement from Claremont Fire Chief Jim Chamberlain. The north side of the building runs right along the Sugar River, and the limited access to the rear made battling the fire difficult, Chamberlain said.

“We really struggled with this fire,” Chamberlain said at the scene late Sunday morning where crews continued to work on smoldering debris.

To reach the fire, vehicles had to maneuver down a long narrow driveway leading past the larger structure on the property, which was not damaged. Chamberlain said fire crews positioned a ladder truck on Sullivan Street and tapped a hydrant there to battle the blaze from above. Responding departments came from as far away as Hanover.

“The municipal water supply could not keep up with demand, so we had five trucks pumping from the river,” Chamberlain said. “It was a big, old industrial building and took a lot of water and a lot of manpower.”

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The fire was called under control at just before 1 a.m. Sunday and fire personnel remained on the scene throughout the morning. No injuries were reported. The cause is being investigated with the assistance of the state fire marshal and Claremont police, Chamberlain said.

Kurt Zentmaier, a former owner of the property who now manages it for Sugar River Storage of Westmoreland, N.H., said when he owned the property it was one large building. He said he created a “fire break,” which separated the larger building from the older portion, which is about 40,000 square feet. It was the older portion that burned Saturday night. Zentmaier said it was used only for storage.

Chamberlain said the building was not considered a total loss because the front portion remained relatively unscathed.

According to the city’s assessing records, Sugar River Storage bought the seven acre property in December, 2019 for $624,000.

The buildings were built as a woolen mill in 1900. The listed assessment of the land and buildings is $649,000.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.