No injuries, heavy water, smoke damage in JC Penney fire

Firefighters climb to the roof of the J.C. Penney department store in Bennington on Saturday morning.

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BENNINGTON — A suspected electrical fire at J.C. Penney on Saturday morning resulted in heavy smoke and water damage but no injuries, officials say.

Bennington Rural Fire Chief Joey Hayes confirmed his department received the call for the fire, which started at about 8:15 a.m. Saturday.

"It was a clothing rack that caught fire," he said. Crews contained the fire within 10 minutes, and remained on scene for about another four hours. About 50 people responded.

Officials are "leaning towards" the fire being electrical, Hayes said.

Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette confirmed there were no injuries in the fire.

Besides Bennington Rural, Hayes requested crews respond from the Bennington Fire Department and North Bennington Fire Department.

"This being the holiday weekend [and] not knowing who's around," he said.

When crews arrived, the fire was visible from the front of the store, he said.

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"By the time we got into where the fire was, the sprinkler system went off," Hayes said. Crews used only about 100 gallons of water to put out the fire.

"The sprinkler did its job maintaining it," he said. "We had to use very minimum water."

The building sustained heavy smoke and water damage, but "very light" fire damage, he said.

"The smoke was throughout the whole building," he said. "They had water damage. The sprinkler system went off. They had to get all the water cleaned up and everything."

Hayes said the store was closed Saturday and Sunday. The store manager said on Facebook Sunday that the store remained closed while cleanup was being completed.

The fire is no longer being investigated by the fire department, Hayes said. It is not considered suspicious.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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