Bellows Falls house fire 'not suspicious'

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Photo Gallery | Three Alarm fire in Bellows Falls

BELLOWS FALLS — A quick response was called for Monday morning at 38 Green St. after firefighters thought someone could be home.

Bellows Falls Fire Department Captain Tom Fredriksen said the resident was experiencing medical issues and went to stay with family. But firefighters had no idea.

"We didn't know that at first because there were cars in the driveway. When we first arrived, we had a report that someone might be in there. That's why we didn't wait and hesitate," said Fredriksen. "We made immediate entry."

Jillian Waite, a neighbor, said she smelled smoke and went outside to find the whole roof of the house was covered in smoke.

Due to a string of arsons within the last couple months, Fredriksen said fire investigators were called to look at the cause.

"They deemed it undetermined and not suspicious," he said.

The department was alerted to the fire at 6:04 a.m. and arrived on the scene at about 6:09 a.m. In about 45 minutes to an hour, Fredriksen said the fire was under control.

The call was upgraded to a third alarm due to families living in a house within about 5 or 6 feet of the building. Fredriksen said he did not check how many people were occupying the neighboring home.

"I was just concerned about the exposure problem," he said.

No civilians or firefighters were injured during the fire, which Fredriksen said was mostly kept to a room on the second floor.

"The guys did a great job stopping the fire," he said, calling the containment of the fire to one room "huge for the outcome."

The main challenge in responding to the fire had to do with personnel. Like many in Vermont, Fredriksen said the Bellows Falls department is shorthanded. He described the moment of getting organized to attack the fire as "a little chaotic" but said everything went well.

Fredriksen said there was no insurance on the single family residence so he did not know how damages from the fire would be dealt with.

According to Southwestern New Hampshire Mutual Aid, the first alarm brought in engines from Springfield, Westminster, and North Walpole, N.H. An engine and rescue personnel from Walpole, N.H., Golden Cross Ambulance, and a rapid intervention team from Putney also arrived at the scene. Saxtons River and Rockingham covered the Bellows Falls station.

When the fire went to a third alarm, assistance from departments in Rockingham, Brattleboro, and the New Hampshire towns of Keene, Charlestown and Claremont came. Grafton and Charlestown then covered the Bellows Falls station. An engine from Chester also was sent to the scene.

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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