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Wendy M. Levy/The Commons

The Brattleboro Fire Department’s ladder truck towers over the scene of a Feb. 21 warehouse fire on Brisk Lane.

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Three-alarm fire destroys warehouse

Seven towns respond to the blaze off Putney Road on Tuesday

BRATTLEBORO—A three-alarm fire that sent flames shooting more than 50 feet into the sky destroyed a warehouse on Brisk Lane on Tuesday morning and shut down part of Putney Road for several hours.

According to Brattleboro Fire Chief Michael Bucossi, the first call came in at 7:54 a.m. from a worker at the site who noticed the fire.

The warehouse, owned by Polarex-VT, and noted on the Brattleboro Grand List as “c/o Vermont Plank Flooring,” measured 125 feet by 50 feet and was used as storage for wooden pallets.

By the time the first firefighters made it to the scene on the dead-end street just behind Dunkin’ Donuts on Putney Road, one-quarter of the building was fully involved in a heavy fire, Bucossi said.

At 7:58 a.m., firefighters called a second alarm, which “recalled all of the Brattleboro Fire Department,” said the chief.

As the flames — visible from Interstate 91— rose high above the warehouse, a third alarm was called at 8:10 a.m. Bucossi explained that this alarm calls in Mutual Aid.

Fire crews from Dummerston, Guilford, and Putney, as well as from Chesterfield, Spofford, and Hinsdale, N.H., aided Brattleboro firefighters to help extinguish the fire. Meanwhile, the fire departments of Greenfield, Mass., Wilmington, Westminster, and Newfane stood by to cover the Brattleboro fire stations, Bucossi said.

Marc Pickering, an administrator with the Vermont Agency of Transportation’s District 2, was there with his crew members to work with the town’s highway workers.

“We’re here for the road closure,” Pickering said, explaining that because Route 5 is a state road, “we’re involved. We set up a sign package to close the road from the rotary to Black Mountain Road.”

His workers closed off the north end of Route 5, at the rotary, and the town crew handled the south end, he said, because it made the most sense for ease of access. The AOT’s District 2 headquarters is in Dummerston, just a few miles north of the rotary.

Although there were no injuries, and all workers got out of the building, Rescue, Inc. workers were seen offering drinking water to firefighters.

“The fire was contained,” Bucossi said, “but our initial concern was that it would spread” to adjacent buildings, some of which were also stacked high with wooden pallets. That didn’t happen. Still, Bucossi said he expected firefighters to be there into the afternoon, pouring more water on the site.

One complication, Bucossi said, was the distance from the warehouse to the hydrant line on Putney Road. “It’s a couple of thousand feet,” he said. “We had to shut down the water a few times to get the additional lines out here.”

“The Brattleboro crew did a great job,” Bucossi said, especially considering the size of the fire. “We’re fortunate a fire this large [had] nobody hurt,” he said, adding, “we worked together.”

Bucossi was unable to name the cause of the fire.

“We have no ideas yet. The building is so big,” he said. Soon the investigations will begin in-house, he said, with state involvement if necessary.

He noted the warehouse collapsed, and it and its contents are a total loss.

“To us, it’s a bunch of wooden pallets,” he said. “To [the owners], it’s a big loss.”

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Originally published in The Commons issue #396 (Wednesday, February 22, 2017).

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