Avalanche in City Damages House

Wall of Snow Impacts Residence, Truck

CLAREMONT, NH––The Claremont Fire Department was requested to respond on Thursday, Jan. 24, at 1:44 p.m. to 259 Chestnut Street, a single-family residence for a significant snow event: An avalanche.  The house is owned by James Desilets, who was home at the time of the incident.  According to Claremont Fire Chief Bryan Burr, “First due fire units on arrival determined that an approximate 800-foot-long by 150-foot-wide section of a snow mass on a sloped field had released. A wall of snow traveled until it impacted both the residence and a parked pickup truck. The residence sustained moderate damage to the exterior siding, basement windows and ground level deck. Snow had entered in through the broken windows, filling the basement with a significant amount of snow and water. The basement sustained damage to its contents due to the snow and water. The pickup was swept down the driveway, approximately 80 feet from its original parked location.”

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Burr said that “The owner was home at the time and witnessed the event. There were no injuries reported. Fire crews attempted to relieve some of the water from continuing to enter the basement by digging trenches and ditches in the packed snow.

“It is believed the cause was due to a combination of torrential rains, deep frost in the ground causing the water from the rain to reduce the surface tension between the snow pack and the ground to the point the heavily-weighted snow released.”   

Burr added, “This is an event that this department had never seen in recent history. It is believed with the drop in overnight temperatures that a similar event is likely not to occur any time soon.” 

The area had seen significant rain throughout the day, combined with higher than normal temperatures, resulting in localized flooding. The department responded to several flooded basements. A river watch was instituted overnight to monitor the Sugar River, a river that flows through the City Center. The National Weather Service in Gray, ME, had issued a Flood Advisory for Rapid Rises for an ice jam in west central Sullivan County Thursday evening until 2:45 a.m. Friday. This was to ensure that the public was not in danger of flood water from the river impacting the lower village of the City, said Burr.

 With temps going from the 50s to falling below freezing Thursday night, area residents were greeted with icy roads Friday morning, and DPW and road crews were busy sanding and salting roads to try to keep up with the rapidly changing weather conditions.

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