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Not-for-Profit, Award-Winning Community News and Views for Windham County, Vermont • Since 2006

Fog trips fire alarm at Brooks House

BRATTLEBORO—The corner of High and Main streets looked like a brief flashback from the 2011 Brooks House Fire on Jan. 30.

Thankfully, it was just a false alarm.

At about 3 p.m., three fire trucks pulled alongside the building, and firefighters donned air packs to file into the now-vacant 1871 landmark.

According to Capt. Leonard Howard, the final firefighter to emerge from the building, fog created by unseasonably warm temperatures had tripped the building’s fourth-floor motion detectors.

The motion sensors detect movement and smoke, said Howard. Without windows on the fourth floor, the fog rolled in from outside and tricked the infrared beam, he said.

Birds occasionally trick the beams, too, said Howard.

After confirming there was no fire on the fourth floor, firefighters inspected the building’s other floors and reset the alarm.

The alarm rallied two fire trucks from Central Station on Elliot Street and one from the West Brattleboro Station. Six firefighters responded.

In April 2011, fire tore through the four-story brick structure, displacing 60 residents and 10 businesses.

The investment partners of Mesabi LLC, took over the $18 million rebuilding project from owner Jonathan Chase last year. The group plans to rehabilitate the building into a mix of retail, residential, and office space.

Last October, the Community College of Vermont and Vermont Technical College announced the Brooks House would host the downtown site of their new joint campus.

According to Mesabi partner Bob Stevens, the group anticipates starting construction in April.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #189 (Wednesday, February 6, 2013).

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