WINHALL — A smoky and persistent fire destroyed an early 20th-century home in Bondville on Saturday, as firefighters from across the Northshire responded to calls for manpower.
The fire, at 2 Goslings Way, destroyed a home owned by Rocky Fratus. A cause has yet to be determined, second assistant fire chief Herb Hewes said, and Fratus didn’t know what might have caused it, either.
Firefighters returned to the scene twice — on Saturday afternoon and again on Sunday morning — to pour water on smoldering debris, Hewes said.
No one was home at the time of the fire, as Fratus was at work at Brown Enterprises in Manchester when he got word — a phone call from Winhall police — at 9:23 a.m.
There were three cats — strays Fratus had taken in — living in the house. They all got out safely, Hewes said.
Firefighters from Winhall were joined at the scene by companies from Manchester, South Londonderry, Weston, Peru, as well as the Londonderry Volunteer Rescue Squad.
Audrey Campbell, who lives not far away down Route 30, said the home dates back to about 1920, and that her father had lived there as a child. It belonged to her grandparents, Hans and Anna Salo, and it operated as a farm with animals and a well-loved row of cultivated raspberry bushes.
Fratus has found alternative lodging and expected to work with his insurance carrier on Monday. “I haven’t fully gone through it yet — access is still kind of limited,” he said. “The town’s been great to me.”
Winhall residents quickly mobilized to help out. As mutual aid responders were arriving on scene, so did town clerk and town services officer Beth Grant, carrying several cases of bottled water.
Hewes and Grant said the Winhall Market provided food to fire crews who spent much of the day on the scene. “They donated 60 sandwiches apples bananas, soda, water — it was amazing,” Grant said.
When it came to getting water to the scene, many hands made light work. Winhall firefighters set up a shuttle tank — think of it as a 2,500-gallon portable above-ground pool — adjacent to the burning house. A steady line of tanker trucks from surrounding towns took turns delivering water from a nearby pond. Meanwhile, firefighters sprayed that water on the house, attacking flames shooting from the roof.
Winhall police diverted traffic on Route 30 around the scene so that the tanker trucks could move unhampered. Green Mountain Power also responded to the call.