Rockingham fire leaves families homeless

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ROCKINGHAM — Three generations of a Rockingham family were left homeless Tuesday after a fire destroyed their home on Coburn Hill Road off Parker Hill.

No one was hurt in the mid-afternoon fire, which broke out after grease caught fire in a grill on the outside porch.

Three generations of Broughs lived at the home at 25 Coburn Hill Road, a private dirt road off Hines Road.

Kimberly Brough said she was home with her four children, grilling chicken, when grease caught fire. She said she turned off the grill and thought the fire was out. She went inside to get a pan and tend to her children, and the next thing she knew her five-year-old daughter was screaming that the porch was on fire.

Brough said she quickly got her four children, all under the age of 8, including two babies, out of the two-story home that is owned by her husband's parents, Diana and Christopher Brough.

Kimberly Brough said her two youngest children, nine months and one year old, were the calmest during the fire, but she said her older children were very upset by the fire.

"The babies were calm, but the two others were freaking out," she said.

She said they got out of the house quickly, but the fire was just as quick.

"We only had two minutes to get out," she said. "The fire was already coming through the door."

Her other children are six and eight.

She said it was the six-year-old who alerted her the porch was on fire, as she was inside the house.

"I was making chicken on the grill and the grease caught on fire. I had two crying babies inside," she said, standing outside with her husband as dozens of firefighters fought the blaze.

She said one of the family's five dogs was missing, and their three cats were also missing after the fire.

Her husband, Stephan Brough, said his parents built the house "from scratch " 17 years ago. He and his wife and their children lived there with his parents.

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Stephan Brough said his mother, Diana Brough, was at a neighbor's home, already talking to the Red Cross about possible help.

The couple watched as the firefighters worked to completely extinguish the stubborn blaze, and firefighters finally had to chainsaw holes in the side of the building so firefighters could extinguish the last flames.

The heat of the fire melted all four tires on a nearby four-wheeler, and it also melted the front bumper of a Ford Explorer parked outside the home.

Acting Rockingham Volunteer Fire Department Chief Tim Jeffrey said getting enough water to fight the fire was a problem. Several fire departments set up a tanker shuttle and water was pumped from the O'Brien Brook near the intersection of Lawrence Road and Parker Hill Road, about two miles away, and brought to the fire scene.

Firefighters from Rockingham, Bellows Falls, Westminster, Chester, Saxtons River and Springfield, as well as Charlestown, Westmoreland and Walpole, N.H., fought the fire, which sent billowing towers of dark and light grey smoke into the air — visible for several miles. Jeffrey said there were about 50 firefighters on the scene.

The two-alarm fire came during the heightened time of the "stay home, stay safe" order from Gov. Phil Scott, as well as the six-foot social distancing guide, and firefighters were seen shoulder-to-shoulder fighting the blaze..

But firefighters were doing the best they could under the circumstances.

"We obviously can't (practice social distancing)," said Bellows Falls Fire Chief Shaun McGinnis. "You do your best. We can't all take separate trucks to the fire."

He said the firefighters were doing their best to follow the guidelines established by the Centers of Disease Control, which established the six-foot guideline.

Springfield Fire Department firefighter Kristi Morris said firefighters in smoky conditions are supposed to be an arm's length from each other because of safety concerns.

"We're doing social distancing as best we can," he said.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com or at 802 556-2147.

Photo gallery: https://mng-nenivt.smugmug.com/Fire-destroys-home-in-Bellows-Falls-033120/

Related coverage: Red Cross aids 11 left homeless in fire


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