Local man dead after fire in Bennington on Saturday
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | April 21,2013
Patrick McArdle / Staff Photo
Firefighters try to contain a blaze that took the life of a 36-year-old Bennington man Saturday. Officials did not identify the man.
BENNINGTON — A 36-year-old man is dead and his mother was airlifted to a Boston hospital to be treated for burns after a fire that occupied dozens of local firefighters for hours Saturday.
Detective David Rowland of the Bennington Police Department said the home on Lincoln Street in Bennington belonged to Larry and Patricia Moffitt. Late Saturday night investigators released the name of the man who died, Scott Moffitt, son of the homeowners.
Fire Chief Steve Crawford said Patricia Moffitt was taken to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Larry Moffitt was treated at the scene and released.
Rowland said Patricia Moffitt was being treated for burns but didn’t know her condition as of Saturday evening.
No one else lived at the house. Crawford said there were pets, but he didn’t know if they had escaped.
The fire took place at 134 Lincoln St., a two-story blue house on a road that runs parallel to the Bennington fire facility.
Crawford said the call came in around 10:50 a.m. Saturday.
“We were at the firehouse with six or eight guys at least,” the fire chief said. “First apparatus was here a minute and a half into the response.”
When firefighters got to the home, Crawford said, they found it engulfed in fire. He said they tried to get the team in as quickly as possible but found “heavy, heavy smoke.”
Crawford said he withdrew the team of firefighters and began a defensive response about 20 minutes after they began their efforts. It wasn’t until almost 2 p.m. when the fire was considered under control.
According to Crawford, the fire is being investigated by the Bennington Fire Department, Bennington Police Department and Vermont State Police fire experts.
Soon after firefighters pulled out some of the second story windows at the home, several popping sounds came from inside. People at the scene said they had heard similar sounds earlier in the day.
Crawford said investigators believed the sound was ammunition cooking off inside the house.
Three young Bennington men pitched in to help one of the residents of the home, apparently Larry Moffitt.
Tyler Prue said he was driving down County Street with his brother, Erik Prue, and their friend, Travis Bentley. Tyler said they saw the smoke coming from the Lincoln Street home so he backed up and turned left.
“As we go down Lincoln, we see a woman come out of the house yelling, ‘Call 911,’” Tyler Prue said. “These two (Erik Prue and Bentley) jump out of the car. (Bentley) runs to the side, grabs a ladder, puts it right up to the top window because he (sees) a guy hanging out of the window right away. (Bentley) leaps up, grabs the guy’s leg and literally yanked him right out of the window. Like, they hit the ground pretty hard but he’s alive.”
Tyler Prue said the woman they first saw was yelling about her “baby,” apparently referring to her son. He said the other two men wanted to go into the house to attempt a rescue.
“It was in no shape for anybody to go in there, not even the firefighters,” he said. “So I’m yelling at these two to back up, don’t go in there and then that woman’s trying to go back in. I grabbed the woman and I pull her back. I say, ‘Ma’am, you can’t go back in there. You can’t,’” he said.
According to Tyler Prue, someone else was still in the house. He said he heard the person yell for help twice and then a noise like something had collapsed in the house.
“I’m shook up,” Bentley added.
Erik Prue said he wanted to run in the house after hearing the woman’s pleas because he is a father himself.
“It was adrenaline and instinct,” he said.
None of the three men knew the people who lived at the Lincoln Street home.
In addition to the Bennington Fire Department, firefighters from Bennington Rural, North Bennington and Pownal were on the scene along with the Bennington Rescue Squad.
Crawford said there were 50 to 60 firefighters on the scene, and none were hurt.