BRATTLEBORO -- An early morning fire on Green Street left five people without a home on Wednesday.

Brattleboro Fire Chief Michael Bucossi said the department received its first report of the fire at 2:21 a.m., but the building was so close to the department that firefighters could see flames out of a stationhouse window.

"They saw fire coming out of the back of the building," he said.

The fire was upgraded to a second alarm at 2:23 a.m. and a third alarm at 2:34. It was declared under control at 5:35 a.m.

One tenant of the building at 72 Green Street was taken to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation and a Putney firefighter received medical attention for an irregular heartbeat.

The Vermont & the New Hampshire Upper Valley Region American Red Cross provides immediate help for the victims of fire, said Doug Bishop, spokesman. Anyone who would like to help the Red Cross and its mission is encouraged to donate or become a volunteer by visiting www.redcross.org/vermont or by calling 802-660-9130, ext. 111.

"All of the five residents of the building were in need of temporary lodging, which was provided by volunteers with another Red Cross Disaster Action Team," the Red Cross stated in a release. "Assistance for food and clothing was also provided to the Brattleboro fire victims."

"The Red Cross was awesome last night," said Patrick Moreland, Brattleboro's interim town manager, who was on the scene at about 3 a.


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m. "They were there right away, providing temporary housing and providing basic stuff like a warm cup of coffee for the firefighters."

The building is uninhabitable at this time, said Bucossi, and whether it can be made safe for occupants again will depend on the results of a professional evaluation.

"Two apartments received very heavy fire damage and the other three had extensive smoke and water damage," he said.

Bucossi said the cause of the fire is not suspicious, but because there was an injury to an occupant, fire investigators from the Vermont State Police are following up on an investigation concluded by the Brattleboro Fire Department.

Bucossi said it's unclear who owns the building.

"We thought it was a guy out of Dummerston, but on the Grand List, it appears the Greenfield Savings Bank owns it," he said. "But the man in Dummerston has been taking responsibility for the building."

Though it was cold -- approximately 12 degrees -- and the region was digging out from a snowstorm, the weather didn't hamper the firefighting effort, said Bucossi.

"There were some slip hazards because of ice produced by the fire hoses," said Bucossi.

The Brattleboro Fire Department was assisted by firefighters from Putney and Guilford, Chesterfield, Hinsdale and Keene, N.H., and Greenfield and Bernardston, Mass. In addtion, Rescue Inc., the Brattleboro Department of Public Works and the Brattleboro Police Department assisted on scene. Coverage was provided by firefighters from Wilmington, Northfield, Mass., and Keene, N.H.

Bucossi urged homeowners, apartment tenants and property managers to take precautions that prevent fires and that minimize damage or injuries if they do happen.

That includes having functional smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and performing regular checks of furnaces and boilers. Chimneys should also be inspected and cleaned on a regular basis, he said. This time of the year it's important that people be careful with candles, make sure Christmas lights are servicable and minimize the use of extension cords, said Bucossi.

For more information on how to prevent, prepare for and recover from a fire, visit www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/home-fire.

Bob Audette can be reached at raudette@reformer.com, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.

EARLIER VERSION:

BRATTLEBORO -- An overnight fire on Green Street has displaced five people, according to the Red Cross. 

Two of the four units in the building were empty, however a family of four lived in one of the units, and a single adult in another.

"All of the five residents of the building were in need of temporary lodging, which was provided by volunteers with another Red Cross Disaster Action Team," the Red Cross stated in a release."Assistance for food and clothing was also provided to the Brattleboro fire victims."

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.