SPRINGFIELD, Vt. -- Investigators are still determining the cause of a 3-alarm fire Saturday night that destroyed the headquarters of Vermont Timber Works on Fairbanks Road.
Fire crews from Vermont and New Hampshire arrived on scene shortly after 7:30 p.m., in response to a reported fire alarm activation and multiple other reports of visible fire at the facility. According to Springfield Deputy Chief Scott Richardson, the first crew to arrive found fire venting through the roof in the center of the building. The building was unoccupied at the time of the alarm.
“There were numerous hazards in the building, as Forklift LPG tanks and company vehicle gasoline tanks erupted in the building,” Richardson reported on Sunday. “The fire was escalated [from a second alarm] to a third alarm assignment, bringing extra apparatus and manpower.”
Crews from 12 area departments participated in extinguishing the fire. Vermont crews came from Springfield, Chester, Bellows Falls, Proctorsville, Westminster, West Weathersfield, Windsor, Ascutney, Ludlow and Reading. New Hampshire crews came from Claremont and Walpole. The Springfield Police Department, Green Mountain Power and the American Red Cross were also on scene to assist the crews. The Charlestown and North Walpole fire departments, Golden Cross Ambulance in Claremont and Charlestown Ambulance provided coverage to the town.
Witnesses reported that the fire appeared under control by around 12:30 a.m., but crews remained on scene throughout the night.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Richardson said. Investigators from the Springfield Fire Department, the Vermont State Police and Vermont Division of Fire Safety are currently involved.
Captain George Wheeler of the Springfield Fire Department said there was only one injury reported, to a firefighter from another department. The injury appeared to be minor but the firefighter was escorted to Springfield Hospital for evaluation.
Sharing on his personal Facebook page, Claremont call member Nicholas Koloski wrote about the firefighters’ mutual cooperation: “We may never have seen each other before or know each other’s names, but we are all there for one another.”
At one point during the fire, Koloski recalled seeing a firefighter trying to pry material from the structure to get a hose line through the wall. Koloski said that he went over and held onto the firefighter’s airpack to support the firefighter in the event he slipped. As Koloski supported the firefighter, Koloski felt a hand grab hold of his back to support Koloski.
“Firefighting is highly coordinated and communicated,” Koloski said. “But it’s the uncommunicated actions that remind me we always have each other’s backs.”