It was a windy afternoon when Londonderry Fire crews responded to a mulch fire at the Market Basket at 34 Nashua Road (Route 102).
“Upon arriving at Market Basket at 2:58 p.m. (Thursday, April 24), crews found three parking lot islands on fire,” Londonderry Fire Lt. Donald Waldron said. “Due to a staffing of three firefighters on the fire engine, the crew was able to deploy two hose lines and a portable fire extinguisher to begin putting out the fires. However, due to the very high wind gusts blowing embers across the parking lot, a total of nine parking lot islands quickly caught fire, requiring an additional engine company and an incident commander to respond to the scene. The fire was declared ‘under control’ at 3:17 p m., with crews checking for any remaining fire until 3:52 p.m.”
According to Battalion Chief Jim Roger, the cause of the fire is still undetermined.
“It could have been either spontaneous combustion or mishandled smoking materials – there’s no way to rule it out, and when we can’t rule something out, it is ruled undetermined,” Roger said.
Waldron said that while crews were working at the bark mulch fire, the department also responded to two ambulance calls.
“The Londonderry Fire Department responded to 18 separate incidents on April 24, including multiple medical calls, alarm activations, mutual aid requests, and service calls,” Waldron said. “The department responded with an incident commander, an engine, and a heavy rescue to Devonshire Lane at 11:17 a.m. for a large tree that had been uprooted by the wind and fell onto a single family home, causing roof damage. There were no injuries.”
At 2:45 p.m., the department responded with two engines and an incident commander to a fire alarm activation in Century Village. “Crews at the fire alarm activation were quickly able to determine that the alarm was a malfunctioning alarm and one engine was diverted to the bark mulch fire,” Waldron said.
Fire Chief Darren O’Brien urges the public to use care with disposal of smoking materials.
“Please do not discard cigarettes anywhere except approved ashtrays and receptacles, and use extreme caution on days with low humidity and high winds,” O’Brien said.
Wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour and low humidity led the New Hampshire Division of Forest and Lands to declare April 24 a “very high” fire danger day.