More than 40 people, including many children, were evacuated from a Brattleboro affordable housing building early Saturday when a four-alarm fire tore through two apartments.
Brattleboro Fire Chief Mike Bucossi says the first engine arrived on the scene just after 6 a.m. to find the flames coming from both floors of the two-floor building.
"I can't say enough about the job that the firefighters did here," Bucossi says. "They were faced with a huge task. When you pull in here with five firefighters, and have that amount of fire showing and have to, not only try to cut that fire off to protect everyone else who is trying to evacuate, but also do searches for people that might be trapped, a tremendous job was done here."
The 12-unit building is owned by Windham & Windsor housing Trust.
Bonnie Denno says she was awake in the early morning, though her apartment is on the other side of the building away from where the fire started.
"One of my neighbors rang our door bell early this morning and said there was a fire," she says. "We got out as soon as we could."
No one was injured, and all of the animals in the building also got out safe, Bucossi said.
The fire was under control by around 8:30 a.m.
Fire departments from around Windham County as well as from Massachusetts and New Hampshire assisted in what Bucossi said was a dangerous and complicated effort to both fight the fire and make sure everyone was out of the sprawling row-house that had been converted into affordable housing.
The New Hampshire/Vermont Region of the American Red Cross set up an emergency shelter in downtown Brattleboro, and fire officials said residents would not be able to return to their apartments until at least Monday.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.