BRATTLEBORO -- Fire investigators from the Vermont State Police are assisting the Brattleboro Fire Department in determining how the fire that left 17 people homeless got started.

As of Friday afternoon, investigators had determined that the fire started on the third floor.

"The origin is still undetermined and it is an active and ongoing investigation," said Brattleboro Fire Chief Michael Bucossi. "Investigators will continue to conduct more interviews with the tenants and the neighbors and will continue to work throughout the weekend."

Bucossi said it's not unusual for a small fire department like his to call in the State Police for help, especially when it involves a building such as the Erwin Building at 214 Elliot St.

"We will ask for State Police help if there is a fatality, a serious injury or multiple injuries or if it's a big building, and we need more experienced and trained eyes on the investigation," he said.

In this case, said Bucossi, the Brattleboro fire investigators were unable to develop the information necessary to proceed with the investigation.

"My team started the preliminary investigation and performed a bunch of interviews but they didn't come away with what they needed to determine the cause," he said. "With the amount of fire damage and the fact that we have received no direction from the interviews, we decided to ask for more help."

Nonetheless, said Bucossi, they haven't yet found anything that leads them to believe the fire's cause was suspicious in nature.


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On Thursday, at just past 4 p.m., firefighters were called back on the scene because smoldering embers were discovered between the peaked roof and the original flat roof, said Bucossi.

Firefighters squelched the embers, but a ladder truck remains on site to provide access in case of future issues, he said.

Bucossi also said that it appears the structure of the building is sound enough for the investigators to be confident they are not in any danger while they attempt to determine what caused the fire.

Bob Audette can be reached at raudette@reformer.com, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.