A house fire that drove a tower of smoke above the treetops in Essex Jct. last week sent a woman to the hospital for treatment of minor burns.
Despite extinguishing the blaze within 20 minutes, fire officials say the two-story home at 12 Juniper Ridge Rd. is a complete loss. They believe the cause of the fire was accidental.
Local departments responded to the scene shortly after noon after a woman called the Essex Jct. station to report her garage was on fire. A firefighter who happened to be at the station at that time fielded the call and alerted Essex emergency dispatch.
Minutes later, firefighters tore down Main Street toward the smoke rising from the Fairview neighborhood. They arrived to find the garage starting to collapse as the fire spread to the home’s attic.
Firefighters entered the residence and made their way to the second floor, where they attempted to stop the fire’s progress through the attic. Other firefighters worked to extinguish the garage.
But the blaze eventually broke through the roof in several spots, at which point crews pulled out of the house so that an aerial stream could knock down the rest of the fire from above.
Officials say crews worked for four the next hours extinguishing hot spots and overhauling the structure. Essex Jct. Fire Department Lt. Richard Smith said most of the home’s property inside was salvageable, but belongings inside the garage were destroyed.
More than 50 firefighters worked in shifts throughout the afternoon to avoid heat exhaustion under the midday sun as temperatures peaked around 90 degrees. Officials say there were no injuries to emergency personnel.
Fire damage was contained to the garage, attic and second floor, but the basement and first floor sustained severe water damage.
Officials wish to remind residents that emergency calls should be directed to 911 because most Vermont fire departments are volunteer and therefore don’t always staff their firehouses. Luckily, thanks to the volunteer at the station, the delay in this case was minimal, Smith said.
Dolly Sharek and her husband were in the area on a mini-vacation when they saw the smoke. They followed emergency vehicles to the scene and watched from nearby, several chunks of ash falling around them.
Sharek commended the firefighters for enduring the sweltering temperatures and said she’s glad no one was seriously injured. Residents shared a similar gratitude, providing hydration to fire crews as they worked throughout the day.
“It was just incredible to watch,” Sharek said. “Such a scary event.”