High temperatures tax fire crews responding to Fairlee house blaze


Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 06-03-2023 1:30 PM

FAIRLEE — It took more than 10 fire departments to put out a house fire in Fairlee on Quinibeck Point on Wednesday due to the heat, location and time of day, according to Orford Fire Chief Terry Straight.

“Due to the extreme heat we needed a lot of manpower,” Straight said in a Thursday phone interview. “Most of the guys only lasted 15 minutes inside.”

The call came in at about 3:30 p.m., Straight said, noting he thought the caller was a boater who saw flames from the water of nearby Lake Fairlee. It took firefighters until about 8:30 p.m. to finish. The temperatures on Wednesday hit high 80s to low 90s across the Upper Valley.

“It was definitely a stubborn fire and the heat did not help,” Straight said. They “went through a lot of drinking water (...) it was tough.”

The home at 301 Quinibeck Point, which town property records indicate is owned by a West Newton, Mass.-based trust in Leslie Zients Pucker’s name, sustained some damage, but Straight wasn’t sure the extent.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. It appeared to have started somewhere on the house’s exterior, Straight said. No one was home at the time of the fire and there were no injuries.

Due to a shortage of firefighters across the region, Straight said more departments have to be called to respond to fires to ensure there are enough people to fight them.

In Orford’s case, the department has an active roster of about 20 people. Eight people in three trucks were available to respond on Wednesday.

“That’s a good response,” he said.

In addition to Fairlee and Orford, departments from Newbury, Vt.; Haverhill, Lyme, Hanover, Thetford, West Fairlee, Wentworth, N.H.; Piermont and Bradford, Vt. all responded on Wednesday. Upper Valley Ambulance also was on hand.

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

CORRECTION: More than 10 fire departments responded to a house fire last Wednesday at 301 Quinibeck Point in Fairlee, which town property records indicate belongs to a West Newton, Mass.-based trust in Leslie Zients Pucker’s name. A previous version of this story included an incorrect address and owner for the property.