Fire destroys vacant city house

A fire investigator from the Vermont State Police carries in wood cutting equipment at 90 Strongs Avenue in Rutland Tuesday afternoon after the home burned earlier this morning. (Robert Layman / Staff Photo)

An early morning fire destroyed a vacant house on Strongs Avenue Tuesday. Deputy Chief William Lovett said the call to the Rutland City Fire Department regarding 90 Strongs Ave. came in at 2:26 a.m. "We had a call reporting the porch was on fire," he said. "When the police department got there — they got there at 2:28 — they reported half the house was involved." The department sounded a general alarm and Lovett said more than 30 firefighters responded to the scene, including a crew from Rutland Town. A second crew from Rutland Town was on standby at the city fire station. "Our initial efforts were to make sure we protected the adjoining property," Lovett said. "It wasn't too bad because there was no wind." Even once they were satisfied the neighbors were safe, Lovett said efforts focused on containment, and the fire was not knocked down until about 5 a.m. "With the amount of fire that was there and the danger of deterioration of the structure, we're less likely to commit firefighters to go inside," he said. "The roof was starting to collapse even when we got there. ... It was determined it was not going to be a viable save." Lovett said some firefighters were still on scene as of 11 a.m., assisting Vermont State Police fire investigators. He said there was one minor injury when a firefighter cut his hand on a piece of wood. "One of the guys slipped in some of the mud we created," Lovett said. Lovett said the structure had been vacant for years. "According to the neighbors, someone had recently started taking care of the lawn and picking up some of the trash that had accumulated over time," he said. The owners, listed by the city assessor's office as Mary Savage and Paul and Donna Arnado, could not be reached Tuesday for comment. Sgt. Matthew Hill, a fire investigator for the Vermont State Police, said late Tuesday afternoon that the fire originated in the front stairwell and foyer area and that the cause was undetermined. Asked if the fire was considered suspicious, Hill replied that the police do not list "Suspicious" as a cause and that the fire was still under investigation. gordon.dritschilo@rutlandherald.com

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