‘River Dave’ loses cabin to fire

CANTERBURY, N.H. — David Lidstone will now have to find a new place to live after vowing to stay in jail until he could return to his cabin that had been built on someone else’s land.

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Lidstone, also known as “River Dave,” had been jailed after refusing to leave the land he squatted on for 27 years, The Associated Press reported.

But Wednesday, the cabin he called his home along the banks of the Merrimack River in Canterbury, New Hampshire, burned to the ground and the cause of the fire is now under investigation, according to the AP.

Firefighters were called to the scene around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday for a smoke investigation, Patch reported.

They had a difficult time locating then getting to the fire, Patch reported.

The landowner’s attorney, Lisa Snow Wade, said most of Lidstone’s possessions had been removed from the cabin before the fire, and no animals were found on the property at the time. Many outbuildings surrounding the cabin are still standing, Canterbury Fire chief Michael Gamache said, according to the AP.

>>Previous coverage: ‘River Dave’ vows to stay in jail instead of giving up his cabin on someone else’s property

“You came with your guns. You arrested me, brought me in here. You’ve got all my possessions. You keep ‘em,” he told a judge earlier in the day Wednesday. “I’ll sit here with your uniform on until I rot, sir.”

People who have befriended him over the years call Lidstone a caring guy and are trying to raise money for him.

“He’s just a really, really, big caring guy, and just chooses to live off the grid,” Jodie Gedeon said, according to the AP. “It really is about humanity. It really is about compassion, empathy... he’s not hurting anybody.”

While he may not have been hurting anyone while living on someone else’s property, the judge overseeing the case said the law is on the side of the landowner, the AP reported.

However, Lidstone said a previous owner gave him verbal approval to live there years ago. The current owner, Leonard Giles, said Lidstone didn’t have permission to be on his land and that he didn’t even know the man was on the property until community leaders told him in 2015, the AP reported.

Giles filed a suit to get Lidstone off the property in 2016, Patch reported.

Even if Giles had a change of heart, it was unlikely that Lidstone would have been able to stay.

But some steps and waivers could have been granted that would have allowed Lidstone to remain in the cabin, the Union Leader reported.

The structure was on nonresidential land close to the river, town officials said, the newspaper reported.

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