Overheated electrical strip caused Brattleboro house fire


BRATTLEBORO -- A fire at 119 Green Street caused extensive damage to one apartment and minor damage to two others, Saturday night.

"Basically, it's one second-floor apartment that was gutted," said Brattleboro Fire Chief Mike Bucossi. "It started from an overheated electrical strip."

Central Dispatch started receiving calls from concerned people around 8:02 p.m. on Saturday night. Bucossi believed the first one came from a resident who lives across the street from the two-and-a-half story building that housed four apartments.

When the first engine appeared at the scene, the fire could be seen coming from a second story window, he told the Reformer. It was coming from the bedroom of apartment number three, where the fire started and was contained.

"A hose line was stretched up the interior stairway to the second apartment and two hose lines were stretched up the aerial ladder to the second-floor porch," stated a Brattleboro Fire Department press release. "At the same time, a search of the three other apartments was conducted, finding all occupants had escaped the building."

The apartment where the fire originated received extensive fire and heat damage. The apartment next to it received water damage in the adjoining wall while the apartment below received minor water damage. There were no injuries to occupants of the building or to firefighters.

Five trucks from Brattleboro traveled to the scenes with 24 Brattleboro firefighters. Hinsdale Fire Department and Keene Fire Department from New Hampshire assisted at the scene along with Brattleboro Police Department and Rescue, Inc. Hinsdale, Putney and Chesterfield covered Brattleboro stations.

The fire was deemed under control by 8:47 p.m. but the road was closed for a few hours. Firefighters with flashlights were looking around the apartment where the fire originated and the electricity for the entire building was shut off by Green Mountain Power.

"Usually, initially, we'll have at least the power killed to the fire apartment but (on Saturday) night, because of the water and other damage, they eventually ended up killing the whole building," said Bucossi.

Occupants of the building stood on the street while he spoke with representatives from Red Cross, who were making plans to provide a place for residents of the building to stay until it was believed safe to return. On Sunday, Bucossi said he didn't think residents would be back there until the next day.

"I do know Red Cross is putting them up in a hotel, everybody that needed a place to stay," he added.

Some of its residents were expected to return to the building as soon as electric systems were checked. The owner wanted the building to stay vacant until a licensed electrician could take a look.

After investigation, it was found that one of the occupants had taken a smoke detector out.

"Obviously, we want to stress to people to make sure your smoke detectors are up and working. They don't do you any good when they are unplugged or don't have a battery or they are on the bookshelf," said Bucossi. "They're installed for a reason and they should be left alone."

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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