NORTH BENNINGTON>> The Red Cross is assisting a Water Street family who were displaced by an early morning structure fire on Friday.
The four residents escaped unharmed and no firefighters were injured, according to North Bennington Fire Chief Edward Myers Jr.
The home was severely damaged and is believed to be a total loss. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Firefighters responded to 645 Water St. just after 3 a.m., Myers said. The fire broke out on the first floor in the back of the house, quickly spreading to the second floor and then up through the roof.
About 15 firefighters with the North Bennington Fire Department worked for about an hour and a half to knock down the blaze, Myers said. His department also received mutual aid from three agencies.
The four residents were members of the Greene family, according to a relative.
North Bennington native Bryce Cutler, now of North Greenbush, N.Y., said the house is his childhood home and was occupied by his sister Nicole Greene and her husband Timothy Greene, along with their 23-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter.
"We're all very thankful for the support we've gotten," Cutler told the Banner.
Cutler said his sister smelled smoke in the middle of the night and his brother-in-law went downstairs to find the source, thinking it could be the home's pellet stove. The pellet stove was fine, Cutler said, but Timothy Greene could see flames in the back of the house.
The Greenes, their three cats and two dogs escaped unharmed.
Cutler said volunteers with the Red Cross are helping the Greenes, who will be staying at a hotel in town until they find housing. He said most of their possessions were destroyed in the fire and most of the items left intact could fit into one truck. The house, which suffered much damage, is a total loss, he said.
Cutler said he and the Greenes are saddened by the loss of the home.
"It's not something you can prepare for," he said. "You can have insurance, but you can't prepare for how it feels."
But he spoke of the generosity of the community.
"Person after person, friend after friend have stopped by to see how they can help," Cutler said. "I've been seeing people I haven't seen in years... It's great to see that we live in a tight-knit community where everyone takes care of each other."
He said efforts are underway to establish an online fundraising campaign through which people can donate funds.
Three local agencies provided mutual aid, Myers said. The Bennington Fire Department responded with a ladder truck and the Shaftsbury Fire Department sent two pump trucks.
Firefighters knocked down the fire with water from a hydrant at the end of the home's driveway, as well as water from the Walloomsac River — the North Hoosick Fire Department also responded with a truck that provided an additional reel of hose.
Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979