JAMAICA -- An early morning three-alarm blaze, Tuesday, destroyed a convenience store, the apartments attached and caused $300,000 worth of damage.
Mohammad "Mo" Alkhatib, owner of Mo's Market on Rt. 30, and 13 friends and family members awoke shortly after 2:30 a.m. to the smell of smoke. Seeing the flames they immediately called 911 and got out of the building.
According to Jamaica Fire Chief Dale West, emergency crews arrived at the building at about 2:52 a.m., as flames crawled up the building.
One person was transported to Grace Cottage Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation; one of the family's dogs and a kitten were also rescued but one of the dogs died as a result of the fire, West said.
The blaze was quickly upgraded to a second, then third alarm and more than 60 firefighters responded to help battle the fire that threatened to consume the gas pumps.
Although the pumps hadn't been in use for five years or so, West said he wasn't taking any chances.
While firefighters from Chester, Chesterfield, N.H., Dummerston, East Dover, Grafton, Guilford, Jamaica, North and South Londonderry, Manchester, NewBrook, North Derry, Prue, Putney, Stratton, Wardsboro, Williamsville, Wilmington, Windham and Winhall battled the fire, protecting the pumps, Chief West had another problem -- the water supply was getting dangerously low.
"We exhausted two water supplies trying to keep this fire under control," he
The Vermont State Police Fire Unit was also called to the scene for an "origin and cause investigation."
After interviewing Alkhatib and several family members, as they looked through the charred remains of his home and business, the Division of Fire Safety Inspector determined the fire was not suspicious. Its source remains undetermined and under investigation.
The building is considered a "total loss."
Last August, during Tropical Storm Irene, damage from the flood waters prevented Alkhatib from finishing the upgrades to his gasoline pumps.
The month before the storm, he said he spent more than $20,000 purchasing new wiring and piping to retrofit the old pumps.
He told the Reformer in an interview last September that he was looking for a second job, possibly in computer programming, to help pay for the costs and the lack of customers in his store following the flood.
Donald Gould and Sons Excavating, of Townshend, was also called to the scene, Tuesday morning, to help bring down the parts of the building that didn't collapse during the fire, Chief West said.
Route 30 was closed in both lanes until about 8:30 a.m., when one lane was opened to traffic. Both lanes were reopened roughly two hour later.
This was the second serious incident in the same area of Route 30 in the past three days. On Sunday afternoon, 62-year-old Sara A. Taft was killed when the vehicle she was riding in crossed the center line and collided head-on with another vehicle. Authorities closed the road for several hours to manage the scene and investigate.
Tuesday's fire certainly wasn't the way West, Alkhatib's family or any of the firefighters had envisioned the start of their day.
On Tuesday, West and his new bride, Darcey, were supposed to be on their way to Maine to celebrate their honeymoon.
"She's an EMT so she understands,"
Josh Stilts can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311 ext. 273.