It may have been winter's last hurrah on the New England coast,
but a February 26 nor'easter that buried much of the Northeast in
snow also destroyed — by fire — a well-known beachfront
landmark in the shore town of Hampton Beach, New Hampshire,
according to the Hampton Union newspaper ("
destroys Hampton Beach block of businesses
," by Patrick
Cronin). Five properties were a total loss in the conflagration,
and at least six more were damaged, the paper reports.
Already short-handed because of budget cuts, local fire crews
were busy around the jurisdiction answering calls for accidents,
fallen trees, and downed power lines when the fire broke out after
midnight, according to press reports ("
chief blames budget in Hampton Beach blaze
," by Patrick
Cronin). A power failure at the closest fire station, followed by a
generator failure, also prevented firefighters from deploying one
fire truck, the paper reports. Some neighboring town fire crews
were also tied up, and those who could respond were delayed by bad
But severe conditions meant that even given full crews, ready
equipment, and more support from other towns, the fire might have
been unstoppable. Winds approaching hurricane strength pushed the
flames horizontally, eyewitnesses reported. "My police scanner
informed me that the Surf Hotel was on fire. By the time I grabbed
my camera and ran out the door, the building was fully engulfed,"
blogs NewHampshire.com photographer and writer Lisa Martineau on
Free and Blog
" page. "The wind was so powerful, it took the
whole building in no time at all." Martineau's video (below) shows
the inferno viewed from a safe distance, with color commentary by
Martineau has also posted
of the fire's aftermath.
At least one owner is determined to come back, reports the
Hampton Union ("
Mitchell's could rise from ashes
," by Patrick Cronin). Bob
Mitchell, the third-generation owner of Mrs. Mitchell's Country
Shop, a surfside souvenir market, says a few sentimental items
survived the blaze, including a giant troll and a shark's head.
Mitchell told the paper that he hopes to be back in business by