Fire damages building at Vermont Industries in Cuttingsville
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | January 19,2013
CUTTINGSVILLE — Firefighters from seven departments battled a blaze late Friday and early Saturday at the Vermont Industries building on Route 103, resulting in heavy damage to a metal building in back of the iconic gambrel-roofed barn.
No one was hurt, said Shrewsbury Fire Chief Russell Carrara, adding that the fire was called in by the tenant of the building.
Carrara, who didn’t know the man’s name, said the fire is believed to have started with the man’s electric heater.
“It started with an electric heater in the bedroom of the tenant,” he said. “It might have tipped over.”
The fire chief said the call came in at about 11:30 p.m. When firefighters arrived there was heavy smoke and fire coming from the metal building in back of the main building.
Saturday morning, a burned mattress could be seen outside the building, as well as a jumble of other items.
Carrara said firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to the three-story red barn, where a flea market is regularly held.
He said he believed the metal building is used primarily for storage, although it also held one apartment. He said the tenant had so far refused help, and indicated he could stay with friends.
Carrara said the tenant, who is in this country on a visa and has limited English, works for the building’s owners, Mike and Linda Muller of Reading.
Mike Muller said Saturday morning that he and his wife Linda, who actually owns the building, had been at the fire scene all night and were exhausted.
“We’re going over to see what’s left,” he said, declining further comment.
The fire chief said Vermont Industries, which had made wrought and forged iron items, was no longer in business.
He said the barn contained a lot of antiques, adding that the metal building sustained “serious” damage from smoke and water.
The building was full of items in storage, such as saws and other equipment. Carrara said the building was so full of items that firefighters initially had a hard time getting to the fire.
“Our only problem was entering the building, there was so much stuff,” he said. “There was a lot of heat and a lot of smoke.”
The chief said about three dozen firefighters from seven area departments helped battle the blaze.