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Nashua;49.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/ovc.png;2014-10-24 08:30:18
Friday, August 8, 2014

Lightning strike blamed for Nashua apartment building fire

NASHUA – Nashua fire officials suspect a lightning strikes sparked a small fire that damaged a French Hill apartment building on Thursday afternoon and caused a pair of transformer fires across town.

A brief thunderstorm rolled through Nashua around 3 p.m. Thursday bringing little rain but plenty of thunder and some lightning. ...

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NASHUA – Nashua fire officials suspect a lightning strikes sparked a small fire that damaged a French Hill apartment building on Thursday afternoon and caused a pair of transformer fires across town.

A brief thunderstorm rolled through Nashua around 3 p.m. Thursday bringing little rain but plenty of thunder and some lightning.

One of those lightning strikes may have started a fire in the basement of 21 Martin St., according to Nashua Fire Rescue Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Kerrigan.

Kerrigan said the fire was centered in a crawl space between the building’s half-cellar and the first floor. Crews had a difficult time accessing the crawl space because of the size of the cellar, Kerrigan said.

Firefighters trying to saw through an exterior wall also had to switch sides of the building after stirring up a large hornets nest and suffering a number of stings.

All the tenants – including a black-and-white rat named Scabbers – were out of the building and uninjured by the time fire crews arrived.

There was some smoke and fire damage to the first floor of the building when the fire broke through the floor and made its way up one wall. Firefighters were able to quickly knock those flames down and contain the blaze to within the crawl space while working to get better access, he said.

Martin Street is a tiny dead-end street between Pearson and Tolles streets off Whitney Street.

The building that caught fire Thursday is at the very end of the narrow street that was completely blocked by a fire engine and ladder truck and about a block from the Tolles Street Mission.

The building is 114 years old and is owned by Daniel Steele, according to city assessing records.

Fire crews were called to the area of 575 Amherst St., shortly before the Martin Street fire. Kerrigan said lightning ignited a pair of transformer fires.

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).