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WEST CHESTERFIELD, N.H. — Fire destroyed a home and snarled traffic on both sides of the Connecticut River Wednesday afternoon.

Chesterfield Fire Chief Rick Cooper confirmed no one was inside the home at 16 Sheila Avenue after the second-alarm fire had firefighters searching for the owners.

Cooper said one firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion but returned to work at the scene. He described the house as a total loss.

The fire brought neighbors out of their homes.

"We heard explosions — five or six," said Ruth Ann, a neighbor who wished to use her first name only. "I'm not sure the spacing."

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Two other neighbors also stood outside watching uphill as firefighters and other emergency responders walked to and from the scene.

Ruth Ann said the explosions were heard around 3:15 or 3:30 p.m. She said she went and looked at the house, which was "a huge ball of orange flame, totally engulfed."

Route 9 was temporarily closed to traffic in the lane heading from Brattleboro to Chesterfield. Tankers were using the road to bring water to the scene.

Ruth Ann said she was not sure whether anyone was home at the time of the fire. She described her neighbors as "great, wonderful people."

At 6 p.m., an excavator was on its way to take the remainder of the house's structure away.