Dave St. Pierre, photo
ST. ALBANS CITY — An overnight blaze destroyed one home on Walnut Street and seriously damaged another.
Firefighters were still on the scene of the fire at 65 Walnut St. this morning where the blaze destroyed a vacant home with a “for sale” sign out front. According to city records, the house is owned by Kevin Deuso.
The blaze also caught the north side and attic of 63 Walnut St. on fire, according to Capt. Matt Mulheron of the St. Albans City Fire Dept. The Red Cross is providing assistance to the family of three and their pet cat, all of whom are safe and uninjured.
City records show Danny and Deborah Raymond as the owner of 63 Walnut.
St. Albans Police Dept. (SAPD) officers responding to a noise complaint on Pearl Street spotted the blaze at around 1 a.m. The fire already had breached the roof and was creating a noticeable glow in the sky, said SAPD Chief Gary Taylor.
Taylor said his officers woke the sleeping family members at 63 Walnut, who were all safely evacuated. One officer, said Taylor, “said it was so hot he thought the hair on the back of his head was burning.”
About 50 firefighters battled the blaze, with St. Albans Town and Georgia providing mutual aid.
City firefighters went inside to attack the fire at 63 Walnut while the town used its ladder truck to knock back the fire at 65, with a focus on the section closest to 63, explained Mulheron. “They had their ladder truck just dumping water on it,” he said of the town.
The fire in the attic at 63 Walnut was a challenge because the attic resembled a crawl space in size, which made getting into it from inside the house difficult. The roof was too steep to stand on, so in order to attack the flames externally, firefighters had to knock back enough of the fire at 65 Walnut to let them get a ladder truck in closer to 63, explained Mulheron.
“You couldn’t even walk between these houses,” he said of the intensity of the blaze.
Firefighters spent about three hours extinguishing the fire and another hour putting out hotspots, said Mulheron.
Vermont Gas was called to the scene this morning to shut off gas to 65 Walnut from the curb. Firefighters had been unable to get to the meter to turn off the gas, said Mulheron.
Taylor praised the work of the firefighters. “I think the firefighters made a really good stop,” he said. “Anytime you have a fire coming through the roof when it’s called in, it’s an uphill battle.”
SAPD detectives have been on the scene since last night, with state fire inspectors expected to arrive this morning.
In addition to the fire starting in a vacant building, Taylor also expressed concern about the speed with which it took off. An officer had passed the building around midnight and noticed nothing amiss, according to Taylor. “An hour later the place was fully engulfed in flames,” he said.