Fire Destroys Cabin Of 81-Year-Old Who Was Forced Out After 27 Years
A cabin that was the home of an 81-year-old man for 27 years has burned to the ground after he was accused of squatting and forced to leave.
David Lidstone, otherwise known as ‘River Dave’, was jailed on July 15 on a civil contempt sanction after a property owner claimed the elderly man had been squatting in the small wooden cabin, which is located on private property in Canterbury, in the woods of New Hampshire.
Lidstone was told he’d be released from jail if he agreed to leave the cabin, however he refused, telling a judge that he would ‘sit here with your uniform on’ until he ‘rots’.
Speaking in a court appearance on Wednesday morning, per Associated Press, Lindstone said, ‘You came with your guns, you arrested me, brought me in here, you’ve got all my possessions. You keep ’em.’
On the same day Lindstone appeared in court, the cabin was destroyed by a fire that is being investigated by local authorities.
Supporters have rallied around the 81-year-old in the wake of the controversy, with Jodie Gedeon, an kayaker who befriended Lidstone about 20 years ago, working with others to organise a petition drive and collect money to cover property taxes.
Upon learning about the fire, Gedeon commented, ‘I’m devastated.’
The cabin was located just a few miles away from Interstate 93 along the Merrimack River, on property that has been owned by the same family since 1963. Though there are currently no plans to develop the land, the owner, Leonard Giles, had reportedly been seeking to tear down the cabin before it was destroyed in the blaze.
Giles’ attorney, Lisa Snow Wade, said the majority of Lidstone’s personal items had been removed from the cabin before the fire. Though Lidstone lived at the property with pets and chickens, Canterbury Fire Chief Michael Gamache said no animals were found, either running around or deceased.
The chief added that the cabin had ‘mostly collapsed upon itself’ when firefighters arrived in an off-road utility vehicle, with the State Fire Marshal’s Office having since been asked to investigate the cause.
As Lidstone refused to leave the cabin of his own accord, his release from jail became dependent on whether the cabin was demolished by Giles or 30 days had passed since he was jailed.
It’s unclear where the elderly man will go now that his home has been destroyed, with his brother Vincent saying he does not have the resources to help.
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