Disaster averted in downtown Littleton, New Hampshire
LITTLETON, N.H. (WCAX) - A 1790s grist mill in Littleton, New Hampshire, which now houses a popular beer company, was just minutes away from being flattened by fire on Wednesday.
Officials say the quick response of three initial firefighters who helped knock down the flames averted a potential disaster.
“We were within minutes of the fire breaking into that building and traveling the length of that roof,” Littleton Fire Chief Mike McQuillem said.
It was almost business as usual for Schilling Beer Company employees Thursday as they met for their morning meeting. Food from the food truck will be served here Friday. But a tarp covering a section of the roof out back tells a different story.
During the dinner hour Wednesday, flames shot through the roof of the 1798 grist mill turned brewpub and restaurant. Immediately to the left is Schilling’s tasting room which was finished in 2018. On the other side is another old structure housing businesses and a covered walking bridge. Downtown Main Street is a block away.
“The biggest concern immediately is the congestion that is there and the proximity of the buildings to each other. You know the age of that downtown and those buildings. I mean that buildings being a couple hundred years old,” McQuillem said.
A constant flow of water from a ladder truck succeeded in putting out the fire. But the chief says it’s the first five minutes of a response that will dictate the next five hours.
“The placement of that hand line to the third floor to protect the interior of that building and keep that fire from spreading, that was the most crucial element to keep that fire in check,” McQuillem said.
“There were flames coming out, I would say possibly two feet high,” said Robert Miller.
Miller is visiting from Massachusetts. He says a crowd formed as firefighters went to work.
“We were just praying that they would be able to get that fire out because you know it is a really beautiful historic building,” he said.
At this time, firefighters believe an ember from the wood-fired oven started the fire, however, the investigation is continuing.
Copyright 2021 WCAX. All rights reserved.