Minor injuries in rooming house blaze

Sprinklers keep Laton House flames in check, but 50-plus occupants slow to evacuate

Nashua Fire Rescue photo Residents of the Laton House in Railroad Square gather in the parking lot after being evacuated from their apartments while firefighters dealt with a fire in a fourth-floor apartment late Sunday night. Roughly 50 residents were evacuated in all.

NASHUA – Although activated sprinklers assisted firefighters by holding in check an overnight apartment fire in the four-story Laton House downtown, fire officials expressed concerns Monday over the “large number” of residents who “ignored the sounding alarms” and failed to evacuate in a timely manner.

Too many residents “needed to be evacuated by fire department personnel,” Nashua Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Steve Buxton said in a statement.

Buxton said “50-plus people” were eventually evacuated from the building, two of whom were transported to local hospitals for treatment of minor injuries.

No smoke or flames were visible when Engine No. 1, the first-due engine, arrived at 28 Railroad Square shortly after 11 p.m. Sunday night, Buxton said.

The crew, headed by Lt. Jeff Allison, heard the alarms sounding, and entered the building to look for the source of the problem.

A number of residents who were in the process of evacuating the building directed the crew to the fourth floor, where, they said, flames had broken out, according to Buxton.

Upon making their way to the fourth floor, firefighters located the origin of the blaze, which was being controlled by water flowing from the sprinklers.

Once they finished extinguishing the fire, Buxton said crews turned their attention to evacuating the remaining residents and “performing salvage work” to minimize water damage to neighboring apartments and those on the lower floors.

In all, 22 firefighters manning three engines, two ladder trucks and two other department vehicles responded, along with police, American Medical Response personnel, Emergency Management, Building Department and American Red Cross personnel.

Buxton said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Attempts on Monday to reach city Fire Marshal Adam Pouliot and other representatives of the office for more information proved unsuccessful.

Lloyd Ziel, chief communications and marketing officer for the American Red Cross New Hampshire and Vermont Region, said Monday that local Red Cross volunteers were continuing to meet with temporarily displaced residents in need of assistance.

As many as 45 people were forced out of their apartments as firefighters quelled the blaze.

Those who weren’t able to return by Monday were provided temporary financial assistance, Ziel said, adding that volunteers also guided them to available local services.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-1256, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DeanS.