Epping, NH – Sprinkler system helps firefighters tackle blaze at auto dealership

Firefighters battled a two-alarm fire in the service department area of Hurlbert Toyota that forced more than 40 workers to evacuate the building Monday afternoon.

Fire crews from several towns responded to the car dealership at 58 Calef Highway (Route 125) after the fire broke out just before 4 p.m.

The cause of the fire wasn’t immediately known, but it may have been started by an overheated motor in an air compressor, according to Jeff Hurlbert, the company’s vice president.

Epping Fire Chief Don DeAngelis said he saw fire inside the compressor room when he arrived.

The sprinkler system activated and helped contain the fire, he said.

“There was a lot of grease that was stored there and that caught fire and started rolling out on us,” DeAngelis said.

One employee was treated after he appeared to suffer some burns when he attempted to extinguish the fire, DeAngelis said.

The fire quickly went to two alarms to bring more apparatus to the scene.

DeAngelis said Epping fire crews ran out of water shortly after arriving, but water continued to flow as soon as Brentwood firefighters hooked up to a nearby hydrant.

Employees began evacuating the building moments after the fire broke out and the alarms and sprinklers activated. Some waited outside in the cold while others walked over to the McDonald’s restaurant next door to stay warm.

“When the alarm went off I immediately evacuated the upstairs and came down and started evacuating the main floor and saw the smoke,” said company president Roy Hurlbert.

He said more than 40 employees were working at the time and made it out safely.

The extent of the fire, smoke and water damage wasn’t immediately known.

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