Three families homeless after fireBy Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | May 04,2013Vyto Starinskas / Staff Photo
City firefighters check the structure after a fire that left three families without homes.A fire on Maple Street displaced three families and killed two cats Friday morning.
Maple Street was closed off from around 10:20 a.m. to about 11:30 a.m., and the Rutland City Fire Department went to a third alarm to call sufficient manpower, 25 to 30 firefighters, to the fire at 115 Maple St.
While all of the half-dozen people in the house got out safely, Deputy Fire Chief Earnest Cioffi said two cats who lived in one of the apartments were killed.
“We lost everything — all of us did,” said Dora Moulton, who lived in one of the apartments with her husband, three small children and a friend.
“I don’t have anything,” Moulton said, sobbing. “My pictures are all gone.”
Neighbors quickly stepped in to console Moulton — and to offer her spare furniture.
The American Red Cross said Friday afternoon it had arranged for the three families to stay at a local motel, provided financial support for food and clothing, and sent a volunteer trained in “disaster mental health” to the scene.
A call to a Vermont State Police fire investigator was not immediately returned Friday afternoon, but Moulton said she believed the fire was electrical in origin.
“When I came outside, the whole box was lighting up and the porch was on fire,” she said.
Moulton said she noticed the fire when she smelled something burning. Neighbor Virginia Neathawk said she heard Moulton yelling for help.
“When we looked out it was completely engulfed,” she said. “While we were calling 911, we were trying to hit it with the hose and fire extinguishers.”
Neathawk said firefighters arrived quickly and that she was advised to stay out of her own house.
“It probably took a good five to 10 minutes to get the fire knocked down,” Cioffi said. “Then we started going room to room. ... The interior has got heavy smoke damage and the first floor apartment has heavy smoke damage and fire damage to the front porch. We stopped it from going to the rest of the building.”
Cioffi said he did not believe anything inside was salvageable.
“It was blackened,” he said. “Just before we ventilated, you could not see in the apartments. ... The house is salvageable. It’s going to need some cleaning, some new windows and a new front porch.”
The scene drew a crowd of onlookers, confined to the sidewalk as police taped off the street. Jeremy Chadburn, who was staying with a friend at the house, stood on the sidewalk in his socks.
“All my shoes and stuff is inside,” he said between bouts of coughing. “I still can’t breathe.”
Chadburn said the fire woke him up.
“Smoke was pouring up through the floor,” he said. “It was, like, I think the house is on fire.”
Chadburn was later taken to Rutland Regional Medical Center for smoke inhalation, where a hospital spokeswoman said he was treated and released.
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