Major Incidents

The village has extensively suffered from fires - first, when it was part of Sanbornton in 1838; again the 7th of November 1863; and the most destructive fire which has occurred in the town took place on the 27th of May, 1875, involving a loss of sixty thousand dollars, for an account of which the reader is referred to the Laconia Democrat, June 3, 1875. The corner now occupying Town Hall burned in 1838 and again in May of 1875. The later fire was extensive, destroying all of the buildings on the north side of the street and some on the south.

On November 7, 1862, the New England Conference Seminary and Female College, located in Northfield, burned. On December 13, 1900, the commodious farm buildings of Charles Barnard were destroyed by fire on Bean Hill. On July 21, 1903, the Loverin Hotel, at the corner of Main and School Street burned. Reports of inadequate water pressure, the need for a better equipped fire service and alarm system were vividly brought to the attention of the Town. On March 20, 1916, a woman on the Franklin Road burned to death when a hot ember from the stove ignited her dress. She ran from the house and was found in burning grass. The house burned flat. The Thompson block at the corner of Main and Park Streets burned in 1919. A building at 27 Park Street was destroyed by fire on June 24, 1943. Another fire earlier in the year destroyed the Edmunds residence; also on Park Street. On March 19, 1944, the Golden Rule Farm, on the site of today's Spaulding Youth Center, suffered a $50,000 loss. Firefighters were on the scene for at least 9 hours. Six days later, on the 25th of March, firefighters laid 2000' of hose to battle a fire at the Ideal Hotel on Main Street. On February 14, 1945, a fire that started in the cellar extended into the partitions of the Legion Hall. Later that year, on April 11th, the Edward Gibson Woolen Mill suffered $100,000 of fire damage. In fact, the major fire of the year was the Carter Mill on Park Street. It was a total loss. The mill was owned by Gibson Woolen Mills, Inc. Assistance was received from Franklin, Laconia, and Winnisquam. Also, there was a fire at the Presby Block which destroyed the full second floor and did considerable smoke and water damage to the several stores on the main floor. The fall of 1947 brought along some of the worst forest fire conditions ever to be recorded. Over 200 fires were fought in the communities. This was the year that fires burnt from the Ossippee's to the coast of Maine. Emery Thibodeau's Stucco block on Main Street burned in 1948. The fire started in the plant of the Tilton Cleaners and soon spread over the entire building. It was a $20,000 loss. In 1949, the property of Mr Tilton on Clark Road burned on December 27 and was a total loss worth $10,000.

On May 8, 1950, 15 acres of brush burned off of Rt 3B in Northfield. The fire started in Canterbury and burned a total of 1300 acres. On August 16, 1950, the Golden Rule Farm had a serious blaze which completely destroyed the combination cow/hay barn and resulted in a $20,000 loss. In 1952, the residence of Frank Cross, Jr., in Northfield, was destroyed - $3,000 in damage. 200 acres of brush burned on Bean Hill on April 23, 1953. Also in that same month, a one room house on Elm Street nearly burned to the ground. The lone occupant was able to escape with some smoke inhalation. That summer, on July 25, 1953, a house, barn, and car were destroyed by fire on Belmont Road near Shaker Bridge. And, in September, on the 27th, a 41 year old male died in his home on Rt 3B, in Northfield, during a fire. On November 12, 1953, a large barn on the Northfield Road Extension of South Prospect Street burned to the ground. In 1954, Tilton-Northfield units responded to a fire at the Craig Homestead on School Street. The fire was started by lightning and resulted in "total destruction" of the property, although some cattle and equipment were saved. The 2 major fires of 1955 were the home of Guy Huckins in Northfield - where the main house was saved, and the Rand Farm, owned by Arthur Brown. Some farm animals and all the family's possessions were lost. The Sager Farm on Bay Hill was leveled by fire on January 15, 1957. The fire is said to have started as a chimney fire. A 23 month old boy died in a house fire at the corner of Holmes Avenue and Arch Street in Northfield on June 12, 1960. On October 23, 1974, the Tilton Inn burned. Five people were rescued from the inn which was completely gutted by fire. Twelve area departments assisted at the scene. On May 22, 1975 a gas stove exploded and destroyed a cottage at Phillips House and Cottages on Rt 3. One person was injured and another cottage damaged. The home of Thomas Corliss, at 3 Chestnut Street, was severely damaged by a fire that started in the kitchen.
On April 29, 1976, juveniles successfully burned down the coal shed a the Kidder and Morin Company on Park Street. This was the last of several attempts to do the same. The TNFD Rescue truck struck another vehicle as it was leaving the station via an alley next to the Congregational Church on October 7, 1982. It was a minor accident. On June 6, 1983, an elderly female's body was recovered from the Winnipesaukee River off of Scribner road, about 3/4's of a mile from where she had most likely slipped into the water, accidentally, and subsequently drowned. Also, in 1983, another drowning: A bulldozer operator's body was recovered from the same body of water - the Winnipesaukee River - near the hydro dam construction site after the machine had gone over an embankment. The District experienced 7 fire fatalities in a 9 year period, beginning on September 6, 1997 when Charlie Dwinal died in his home on Howard Avenue. A father and two children died in a fire on Winter Street on October 13, 2001. One other child was uninjured. And, on February 28, 2006, two residents and their care-giver died on Lancaster Hill Road at a residential care home. One other resident suffered minor injuries and was assisted out of the building by a police officer. In 2002, a spectacular motor vehicle accident occurred on I-93. It was August 11th, when a milk tanker and a camper collided in the southbound lane, north of exit 20. 1 person was killed, others were seriously injured.

End Notes