Family escapes fire on Shore Drive in Brattleboro

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BRATTLEBORO — Residents are unharmed but two cats are said to be missing after an early morning fire damaged a two-family home Sunday.

"Smoke detectors woke up the tenants," Fire Chief Mike Bucossi said. "So again, we have a case where smoke detectors have definitely saved some lives here."

Three adults and two young children escaped their apartment at 25 Shore Drive.

"They were all home and got out safely," Bucossi said.

The other apartment in the building is home to two adults who were away for the weekend. At the scene, Bucossi said two cats known to roam freely were missing.

In a news release, the Brattleboro Fire Department said one apartment was "totally gutted" by the fire and the second had "significant smoke damage." The building is owned by Ian S. Leahy of Provincetown, Mass. Leahy could not immediately be reached. According to the statement, all residents are being helped by the American Red Cross, and the Red Cross and building owner are working together to secure temporary housing.

The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental. Firefighters believe the fire started from hot embers from a nearby fire pit getting into items on the front porch.

The call came in at 5:05 a.m. and the fire was deemed under control in about two hours. The initial report indicated "the house was well involved in fire," Bucossi said. A third alarm was struck at 5:24 a.m. because "our help wasn't coming in all that fast and with the heat and the humidity, we wanted extra people here so we could route folks out in a hurry. Even though it's really early in the morning, it's very warm in the gear with the air packs."

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Another challenge had to do with location.

"It's kind of tucked down into a hole off of Eaton Avenue and it was hard to get trucks into the driveway," Bucossi said.

Fire Capt. John Davis was one of the first responders on scene.

"We had heavy fire coming from the front side of the building," he said. "Crews pulled two hose lines and aggressively knocked it down and then we made an interior attack."

Davis said residents of the building confirmed everyone was outside.

At the scene were fire departments from Hinsdale, N.H., Putney, Guilford, Chesterfield, N.H., Keene, N.H., Spofford, N.H., Greenfield, Mass. and Bernardston, Mass. Departments from Wilmington, Dummerston, Putney, Westminster and Northfield, Mass. covered the Brattleboro stations.

Also at the scene were Rescue Inc., the Brattleboro Police Department, the Brattleboro Department of Public Works Utilities Division, Green Mountain Power and the Red Cross.

"Rescue Inc. responded to the scene with two ambulances and set up rehab for the firefighters, monitoring their vital signs and providing drinking water," Brattleboro firefighters said in their statement. "There were no injuries of either occupants or firefighters though three firefighters were monitored at the scene for heat related issues."

Reformer photographer Kristopher Radder contributed to this report.


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