Thursday, January 3, 2013
Two firefighters were taken to the hospital
after battling a two-alarm building blaze on Island Street Wednesday
afternoon. The 200-by-30-foot commercial building suffered heavy damage,
fire officials said.
The firefighters suffered minor injuries, but their conditions
were unavailable this morning, Bellows Falls Fire Chief William Weston
Robert Blodgett of Grafton, Vt., said the fire
started while he was working on his Pontiac van in his auto shop, which
he rents in the building, along with an apartment where a friend of
Blodgett’s was living.
While he was under his van, gas leaked from the tank into a cage light he was holding.
“I was unplugging wires on the gas tank when it
ignited. I tried to pull the light out from underneath, but the gas got
in the light, spread on the floor and caught my van on fire,” he said.
“It all happened so quick. ... (The fire) was about 2 feet away from my face.
“My mind just went blank and I got up and tried to do everything I could (to put it out),” he said.
Blodgett was not taken to the hospital, but said he
got flash burn on one side of his face from the flames, which feels like
More than 30 firefighters from multiple agencies
worked together for about four hours on the fire, which displaced four
people, Weston said.
Blodgett said there was also a wood shop and storage space in the building.
Blodgett, who uses the space to fix up vehicles and
sell them, said he lost his entire shop, including all his equipment,
six motorcycles and his van in the blaze.
“I lost all my tools and cars and everything,” he said. “I’d say it’s worth about half a million dollars.”
Fire officials said the auto shop collapsed and was a
total loss. There was also severe damage to the roof in parts of the
building, but the building is not a total loss overall, Weston said.
Weston said officials are still investigating the cause of the fire.
The building, at 10 Island St., is owned by Paul Anderson of Washington, fire officials said.
Surrounding businesses such as Oh Zone, a consignment shop, and NAPA Auto Parts were not damaged in the blaze, Weston said.
Emergency crews from Westminster, Saxtons River,
Rockingham and Springfield, Vt., and Walpole, North Walpole and
Charlestown assisted Bellows Falls firefighters.