Customers help put out store fire

MERRIMACK – Showing they in fact could do it with the help of store clerks, customers aided in extinguishing a small fire at Home Depot on Monday afternoon.

Customers and workers using portable fire extinguishers had the small blaze nearly out by the time town firefighters arrived at the 722 Route 101A store, according to Deputy Fire Chief Frank Fraitzl.

The fire, which broke out just before 1 p.m., is being considered suspicious and is under investigation by the fire marshal and town police, Fraitzl said.

An engine from the Naticook Road fire station arrived two minutes after the call came, and firefighters found smoke in the building and a fire in the store’s electrical section.

“It was in the area where switches, light bulbs and electrical wiring is sold,” Fraitzl said.

Damage estimates weren’t available Monday afternoon, he said.

“The store’s got to examine the retail stock and see what’s re-sellable,” Fraitzl said.

The fire caused minimal damage to the building, he said. Fraitzl declined to comment on the cause of the fire because of the investigation.

Fire officials left the scene shortly before 3 p.m. as Home Depot managers and employees were preparing to clean up and reopen the store.

Fraitzl said to his knowledge this was the first fire at the store, which opened in 2001 amid a large mix of interest and controversy. The 116,000-square-foot store was the largest retail development in southern New Hampshire in the year it opened.