EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 18, 2013

Plaistow man in critical condition after fire

Fire also destroys Plaistow home

By Alex Lippa

---- — PLAISTOW— A Plaistow man is in critical condition after suffering burns in an early-morning fire destroyed his home yesterday.

William Bartlett III, 29, was airlifted to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston with serious burns to his hands and feet.

When firefighters arrived at the home, they saw the two-story Cape-style home completely engulfed in flames.

“What’s lost is lost already,” fire Chief John McArdle said. “It was too involved. We weren’t going to put this fire out in the interior.”

About 30 firefighters from eight towns responded to a two-alarm fire at the home at 2:45 a.m yesterday. When they got to the home, Bartlett had just escaped the blaze by climbing out the window with his dog. A landing zone was soon set up at Pollard School to airlift Bartlett to Boston.

Bartlett was the only one in the home.

The dog was taken to Veterinary Emergency and Surgery Hospital in Brentwood with burns to its paws and nose. A nurse at the hospital said she could not release the condition of the dog without the owner’s permission.

Bartlett is the son of William Bartlett Jr., who owns Bill Bartlett and Son Landscaping. William Bartlett Jr. had just finished building a home next door and he and his wife moved in last winter.

Neighbors said the Bartlett family is very well known in the community.

“It’s a shame,” said Dick Latham of 10 Sweet Hill Road and a former fire chief in Plaistow. “I know them very well, they’re good people and it was a beautiful home.”

Leo LaCroix of 14 Sweet Hill Road said the Bartletts plow his driveway in the winter.

“You couldn’t ask for better neighbors,” said Leo LaCroix of 14 Sweet Hill Road. “It breaks my heart to see this happen to them.”

LaCroix said he was sleeping in his home across the street when he was woken up by a crackling sound.

“I thought it was rain at first,” LaCroix said. “But it woke me right up.”

McArdle said firefighters fought the flames for 45 minutes to bring the fire under control.

“It was clear weather and no wind,” he said. “There was nothing that really hindered us besides for the fact that it came in at 2:45 in the morning.”

Only the chimney and front steps remained fully intact yesterday morning. A Bill Bartlett and Son Landscaping pickup truck, which was parked in the driveway, was completely destroyed. Another pickup truck in the garage also was lost in the fire. A shed in the backyard also was damaged.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. McArdle and a state fire marshal were walking through the site of the fire yesterday afternoon. McArdle said it would be days before they determine the cause, but he didn’t believe it was suspicious.

“Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot to work with here,” McArdle said.

But McArdle said if the home had sprinklers inside, it could have made a difference.

“It most likely would have controlled it,” he said. “But this is an older house and most older houses don’t have sprinklers in it.”

Atkinson, Newton, Kingston, Sandown, Danville, Hampstead and Haverhill, Mass., firefighters assisted Plaistow at the scene.

The home was assessed at $152,300, according to Plaistow town records.