Tuesday March 19, 2013

ALSTEAD, N.H. -- A truck used by two non-profit organizations was totaled in a fire that also damaged a kitchen on Friday.

Mary Lou Ruffling, who runs both the Fall Mountain Food Shelf and Fall Mountain Friendly Meals, said the fire started around midnight and quickly destroyed a Ford F-150 pickup truck and its cap before advancing to the Friendly Meals kitchen. She said the truck was donated in 2001 and used to carry food from the kitchen to the Alstead Fire Station, where Friendly Meals are served.

Ruffling told the Reformer no one was harmed in the blaze and its cause is still unknown. She said someone called 911 after seeing the flames while driving down River Street on Friday night. Parts of the kitchen’s ceiling and walls will have to be replaced and new insulation is needed, she said.

Ruffling said on Monday afternoon she had just spoken with an insurance adjuster from Primex, the insurance provider for all municipalities in New Hampshire. She said the kitchen will be unusable the next two weeks and she is waiting to hear how much insurance money will be dispensed. Selectman Michael Jasmin is taking care of the insurance issues and recruiting local contractors to handle the repairs, she said.

Jasmin said he found out about the fire around 1 a.m. Saturday. He said he went down to the kitchens and helped clean up some old insulation to keep the building weathertight. He told the Reformer the insurance adjuster will get back to him with a quote in a couple of weeks.

He said he will start calling different contractors today and, as long as a contractor’s scope of work is approved by Primex, repair work can start soon. Jasmin also said the truck destroyed in the fire will have to be replaced by another truck or, preferably, a van.

Ruffling said Jasmin has been very helpful over the last few days and boarded up some holes in the kitchen. She hopes to see the repairs start as soon as possible.

"We just hope it will get done soon," she said. "I know (the community) will be behind us. They always are."

Sandy Hollenbeck, a volunteer at both non-profit organizations, said the truck was used two to three times a week to pick up and deliver donated foodstuffs. She said food shelf provides food for 230 to 250 area families every week.

A phone call seeking comment from the Alstead Fire Department was not immediately returned.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.