BERLIN, N.H. (AP) – A dozen people had to run for their lives early Friday when fire broke out in their apartment building, leaving them homeless, in at least the eighth major fire in the city this year.
No one was hurt when flames broke out in the three-story, century-old building around 3:30 a.m.
The state Fire Marshal’s Office was called in; investigators said that Friday’s fire is likely not suspicious.
Firefighters were able to bring the fire under control after a couple of hours.
“I grabbed a picture of my grandmother and my family, and that’s all I have left,” said Ramona Bedard, who lived on the second floor.
Investigators said they believe the fire started in the first-floor apartment.
Andrea Bishop, who lived in that apartment, said she woke up to smoke detectors at about 3:15 a.m.
“I woke up, ran into the living room where my son was with my boyfriend trying to put the fire out,” Bishop said. “Opposite ends of my couch were on fire.”
The neighborhood was the scene of another fire on June 12.
“We got woken up by that,” said Jeff Wytral, a victim of Friday’s fire. “We heard all the commotion, and it was about the same time this happened. I don’t know if it’s coincidence or what.”
The cause of the June fire is still undetermined.
Officials have acknowledged that two other fires on opposite sides of the city earlier in June were arson and a number of others this year are suspicious.
In January, three people were killed in a fire that gutted two apartment buildings, and two more buildings were heavily damaged in another fire in February.
That prompted state fire inspectors to examine a number of buildings in Berlin.
Last year, the city launched a program aimed at inspecting all its multifamily homes, many of which are deteriorating and date back to the heyday of the paper industry, when the city’s population was more than double what it is today.