The fire was believed to have been caused by an overheated central floor furnace. Many homes had this type of hot air furnace because they were inexpensive, but they were not very safe. The furnace was suspended from the living room floor into the basement with one large heating register flush with the floor. On this particular night it was very cold so they turned the heat way up and went to bed. The mistake made was that before going to bed, they put many diapers on a wooden rack over the large register. After drying out, the diapers got hotter and hotter and finally reached the combustion point and caught fire. This intense heat caused the curtains, overstuffed furniture, and other light combustible materials to catch fire. These items were smoldering, causing the smoke, but the wooden items didn’t catch fire. When we arrived, there were no flames so the fire was put out quickly.
Dr. Claire, the Rockingham County Coroner, had to come all the way from Portsmouth to pronounce that the three people had died. The Reverend Bob Howard went to see the widow that next morning. Although he had never met her before, he felt that he helped by just listening to her. Later he officiated at the tragic funeral.
(Editor’s note: Don Clark is a long-time Kingston resident, who served the community as a fireman, teacher, and selectman.)