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Home in rural Springfield, N.H., damaged in fire; family safe

  • John Thompson, of Springfield, N.H., comforts his dog Zach as firefighters bring a fire under control at his uninsured home Tuesday, March 19, 2019. No one was injured in the fire that started when Thompson was at home working outside with his two dogs. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • A Grantham firefighter checks the connections on a colleague's breathing apparatus while putting out a fire at the home of John Thompson in Springfield, N.H., Tuesday, March 19, 2019. There were no injuries in the fire and the house was not habitable after the fire was extinguished. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/19/2019 2:50:53 PM
Modified: 3/21/2019 4:37:59 PM

SPRINGFIELD, N.H. — A family’s rural home suffered significant damage in a fire Tuesday morning, but no one was injured and their two border collies were outside when the blaze broke out.

John Thompson was working on his property at 145 Eastman Access Road around 10 a.m. when he noticed an unusual amount of smoke coming from the area of his house where the wood stove is installed.

Before he knew it, the home he has spent about 15 years building piece-by-piece on a pay-as-you-go budget was up in flames.

Not having a cellphone and with the landline in the home too close to the flames, the 55-year-old Thompson stopped a passing car to have the driver call 911, he said.

About a dozen Upper Valley fire crews responded to the second-alarm blaze and found heavy fire coming from the end of the home near the wood stove, New London Fire Chief Jason Lyon said at the scene.

Fire crews were able to recruit enough personnel — firefighters from Springfield, New London, Grantham, Enfield, Canaan, Sunapee and Wilmot responded — to prevent the flames from destroying the structure altogether.

But the home, which wasn’t insured and was still under being worked on by Thompson, suffered significant damage and is not habitable at this time. The fire is believed to have started near the wood stove; just what sparked it remains under investigation, Lyon said.

Although some of the home was charred, parts of it may be able to be repaired. An inspector will likely need to assess the structure, Lyon said.

Thompson lived there with his wife, Denise, their son, and two dogs, Zach and Finn. John Thompson and the dogs were the only ones home at the time of the fire.

Thompson shared a long embrace with Zach as firefighters ran hoses into all three stories of the home; Finn, the shyer of the dogs, watched on from the edge of the woods line.

Despite the situation, Thompson thanked firefighters as they walked by him, their faces beet red and dripping with sweat.

“No problem, man,” one firefighter said to Thompson, placing one hand on his shoulder and grabbing a water bottle with the other.

Thompson, who works at Mac’s Market in Woodstock and is a “jack-of-all-trades,” said he wasn’t yet sure what his family’s next steps would be.

The home has been a work in progress for some time, but his family moved out of a mobile home on the property and into the house about 10 to 12 years ago, he said.

“All that work; all our stuff,” Thompson said. He had seven banjos inside, two from the 19th century. Around noontime, he wasn’t sure what the fate of them would be.

Thompson continued to remain positive.

“I built the damn thing,” he said of his home. “I think I can build it again — I hope.”

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at or 603-727-3248.

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