Portsmouth Family Jumps To Safety After Fire Erupts During Blizzard

Four Portsmouth residents - two adults and two children - jumped to their safety Friday night after a fire trapped them inside their Park Avenue home during the height of the storm.


Seven Portsmouth residents are lucky to be alive after a fire broke out outside a Park Avenue home during the height of the 2013 blizzard Friday night. 

In what could be described as the worst nightmare for Portsmouth firefighters, a 911 call came in at 11:29 p.m. After a couple hours of lights flickering, most Portsmouth residents lost power for good around 10:30 p.m. Friday. 

The 911 call described one of the worst possible scenarios for firefighters. A house was on fire. Seven people were trapped inside. 

All Portsmouth fire crews rushed to the fire at 88 Cove St. in Island Park. However, due to blizzard conditions, the response time was delayed. 

"It took us 12 minutes to get to the scene. It normally would have taken us four minutes," said Portsmouth Deputy Chief Michael O'Brien. 

"There were whiteout conditions and two to three-feet-deep snow drifts. Access to the road was also blocked. There was a heavy branch in the roadway leading to Cove." 

The blizzard conditions were not the only nightmare situation. Four people - a man, woman and two children - were trapped by fire on the second floor of the two-family house. 

"The second-floor door was blocked by fire," O'Brien said. "All four jumped out of window onto a roof hanging." 

One of the children, a teenage boy, received a minor injury to his leg. None of the other residents were injured and the rest made it out of the house to safety. 

Two firefighters were also treated for falls during the response. The falls were due to ice and snow conditions, according to the deputy chief. 

The family was given shelter this weekend during the storm. "But I can imagine they will be struggling to get back on their feet," O'Brien said. 

The house was heavily damaged due to the fire. The blaze started on the exterior wall. "The house was heavily engulfed in fire when we arrived," O'Brien said. "The fire spread in the walls and up to the attic." 

The cause of the fire is under investigation at this time. However, it is believed the fire may have started from a generator, said O'Brien. 

Both the Middletown and Tiverton Fire Departments provided mutual aid during the response. 


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