Albert J. Marro / Staff Photo
Rutland firefighters sift through the garage behind 12 Elm St. in Rutland Tuesday, on morning after an early morning blaze destroyed the property.A gun shop in business for more than 30 years was destroyed Tuesday in an early morning fire.
Rutland City firefighters responded to a home at 12 Elm St. around 8 a.m. to find flames and a lot of smoke coming out of a two-bay garage that housed the gun shop. Fire Chief Robert Schlachter said it took his crew about 20 minutes to douse the flames, and the building was a total loss.
“Everything in there was pretty well damaged,” he said.
Brad LaFaso, the department’s deputy chief of operations who was in charge of the scene, said the cause of the fire was unknown Tuesday, but that it was not considered suspicious. He said fire investigators believe the fire started near one of the bay doors and then spread.
The fire was contained to the garage building. The nearby home and a vehicle near the garage were not damaged. But a pickup truck and everything inside the garage and gun shop was a total loss, LaFaso said.
“We heard loud pops and bangs, but we didn’t know if it was the ammunition or springs coming undone in the doors,” LaFaso said. “That is when we went into a defensive operation.”
Schlachter said the firefighters did not enter the building because they did not know the strength of the structure. Instead they doused it from the outside.
“We wanted to err on the side of caution,” the chief said.
He said they took precautions because of the ammunition in the shop. While bullets can cause a lot of damage, he said, the projectiles travel at a lower velocity than if shot from a gun.
“Ammunition in a box, the casing goes one way while the projectile goes the other way,” Schlachter said.
LaFaso said the home and business owner, Geraldo King, 86, was home when the fire broke out but did not know it was going on. He said a neighbor who saw the smoke tried to warn King, but was unsuccessful and called the fire department.
“One of his granddaughters said he usually goes into work sometime between 9 and 11 a.m.,” LaFaso said.
Donna LaRose, who lives across the street, was alarmed to see the fire in the shed behind King’s house a little before 8 a.m.
“I see smoke, flames, shooting out over there,” she said. “I came out and screamed, ‘Somebody call 911!’”
King was evacuated as a precaution. No injuries were reported from the fire.
LaFaso said investigators will probably determine the cause of the fire within the next couple of days.
Rob Mitchell contributed to this story.
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