Eight people have escaped unharmed after flames ripped through one of the original chalets in the village on Mount Washington late Saturday night.
One of the occupants who was renting the log home for two nights this weekend told CHEK News the fire appears to have spread from the fireplace into the walls and a storage area that was kept locked by the owners.
“And then all of a sudden we saw the flames burst out through the stairwell and at that point it was definitely time to move,” said Steven Iglefield. “Between us getting out of there and the entire roof being on fire was less than five minutes.”
They called 911 and evacuated the building as the flames became more visible and smoke filled the large home.
For the first time since a fire protection agreement was signed December 1, 2017, a fire crew based at the resort, The Mount Washington Fire Department, operated by the Oyster River Fire Department responded to the blaze.
The four members who live at the resort raced to the scene in a UTV on snow-tracks because the location of the fire at 909 Jutland Terrace is in an area, where there are no plowed roads in the winter.
“And one unit is lost but we didn’t lose anymore and that was the intent of this so the initial four people, the crew up here did a great job to contain this fire,” said Oyster River Fire Chief Bruce Green.
In the past, chalets burned to the ground because there was no fire department that would respond unless victims were trapped.
Hose lines were immediately set up and attached to nearby fire hydrants within 10 minutes, but it was a stubborn fire to extinguish.
The blaze was already burning too dangerously for firefighters to enter the chalet so water was directed through windows. A heavy snow load on the roof also made the situation more dangerous for firefighters to enter.
“It’s a difficult fire for us to fight because there’s heavy roof load and we can’t get access points,” said Green at the scene Saturday night. “There’s nobody inside so there’s no use us going inside so we’re just trying out best to put out hot spots as they flare up right now.”
More firefighters from Oyster River arrived 20-30 minutes later, and crews had to hike up to the fire with more hoses and equipment.
The fire burned for several hours but was contained and did not spread to nearby chalets. It was finally declared extinguished at 2:00 pm Sunday afternoon.
The large blaze lit up the clear sky over Mount Washington and could be seen across the resort.
“I looked out the window and saw the flames up in the sky and it was absolutely devastating. It’s just a terrible accident, thank God everybody got out,” said Alison Hastings who witnessed the fire.