Wilmington family displaced by fire

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WILMINGTON — John Hescock had already responded to two calls when the Wilmington Fire Department got a third on Saturday. The address on Shearer Hill Road was a familiar one. His old childhood home and his brother, Eric Hescock's, current residence.

Eric and his family, his wife and three children, lived in the home with their five dogs. One of the dogs was saved by firefighter Matt Somerville. Four other dogs died in the fire.

John Hescock believes his brother's family will stay with relatives. "We're all close," he said. "We're all still in town."

Hescock himself started working with the Wilmington Fire Department in high school as a junior firefighter.

The Wilmington Fire department normally tries to distance firefighters when calls are personal, Lt. Keith Johnson said.

"Sometimes we have to look past things," Fire Chief Scott Moore said. "We're here to do a job professionally."

The firefighters did their job. Moore said the team was handling the cold weather well. An hour into the fire, not a single truck had froze and the fire itself was out. Firefighters rotated shifts going into the house to watch for flare-ups.

Moore wasn't sure what caused the fire. He reminded people to be careful about heating their frozen pipes and to remember to unplug their electric heaters.

Deerfield Valley Rescue and the Wilmington, Halifax, West Dover, East Dover, Whitingham and Marlboro fire departments all responded to the scene. The Wilmington station was covered by departments from Brattleboro and Colrain, Mass.

The Wilmington Fire Department expects to release information soon on how to help Hescock.

"As a department, we will stand behind our brother and provide him with any assistance that we can," a press release says.

Firefighters had their hands full in Wilmington this weekend. The fire department reported that it had eight calls in less than 24 hours.

"Starting at 10 p.m. Friday night, we responded to a Broken Sprinkler Pipe in Shaw's Plaza, a chimney fire, Route 9 East, a rollover in Wardsboro, a rollover in Stratton, a first-alarm in Readsboro, jaws extrication at Sherman Pond in Whitingham, an automatic fire alarm at the Hermitage [Club], and finished off with a second-alarm structure fire on Shearer Hill in Wilmington," the press release from the fire department says.

The situation this past weekend summed up the need for working with other local agencies in a mutual aid network.

"As you can see from the above, mutual aid is the way things are today," the press release says. "We help others and they help us. This was the case all day on Saturday. We provided mutual aid to several Deerfield Valley Towns only to be repaid when we needed them at the second alarm ... We always hope that this type of help is never needed. But, it's great to have it when it is."

Harmony Birch can be reached at hbirch@reformer.com, at @Birchharmony on Twitter and 802-254-2311, Ext. 153.

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