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« : February 02, 2005, 03:38:31 PM »

Fire strikes Enosburg Falls, destroys downtown block

The following photos were clipped from the St. Albans Messenger Web site at:  http://www.samessenger.com/20205.html

Fire ravaged a historic Main Street block in Enosburg Falls late Wednesday morning, displacing families and destroying businesses in a vital, economic section of the village.

Firemen from at least eight Franklin County departments – and one from Sutton, Quebec – spent hours battling the blaze as it swept from north to south along the Depatie Block. Flames shot out of windows. Smoke was visible for miles.

Dozens of Enosburg residents and students from the nearby high school swarmed to the scene. Many were saddened by the loss suffered downtown. Still others rallied behind business owners and quickly helped them empty salvageable merchandise from their shops.

The fire destroyed a restaurant, furniture store and ladies clothing boutique, among other establishments.

There was no cause determined as of early Wednesday afternoon. Firemen continued to fight the fire at mid-afternoon. There were no injuries, but some pets were lost. The Northern Chapter of the Vermont Red Cross set up headquarters at the Enosburgh Opera House to assist victims.

The Messenger is conducting ongoing coverage in order to prepare an in-depth report with photographs for Thursday’s edition.

Channel 3 Reported The Following:

Enosburg, Vermont - February 2, 2005

Enosburg's major business blocks were fully engulfed when fire crews arrived minutes after the first call at 9:30 Wednesday morning.

Within minutes the mutual aid call went out bringing fire crews from eleven other communities to the scene including one from Sutton, Quebec.

"As far as Enosburg Falls goes this is the biggest fire Enosburg has seen since the Bailey Grain Elevator burned back in the sixties," says Asst. Chief Robert Gleason of the Enosburg Fire Department.

The blaze ripped through the five businesses housed in the two blocks and six second floor apartments. Everyone got out and there were no injuries, but for one tenant it was a close call.

"One person was hanging out the window that person went back into the building and was able to get out."

It took four hours to get the blaze knocked down and under control, but it didn't mater. The structure was a total loss.

Fire crews admitted it came as no surprise that the 110-year-old wood frame structures finally went up in flames.

"Old construction. Very old construction. And we pre-planned this numerous times in case of this event."

Authorities say it was obvious the blaze started on the second floor above a furniture store. Rumors flew about how it started, but the authorities were saying little.

"I'd put it suspicious."

"If anybody does have any information if they would please call the St. Albans State Police," says Sgt. Jerry Charboneau of the Vermont State Police.

The most popular rumor about how the fire started was that an angry teenage boy was responsible and was already in police custody. But we spoke to police investigators who insisted the rumors are completely unfounded and they told us that no one had been taken into custody.

There was one good thing about this day -- the temperature. It's the first Ground Hog Day that any one up here can remember that it wasn't ten below zero, and that helped fire fighters quickly knock down the blaze.

Brian Joyce - Channel 3 News

Several Buildings Ablaze In Enosburg
UPDATED: 1:45 PM EST February 2, 2005
Fire crews from several towns are fighting what they are calling a block fire in Enosburg, Vt.
Officials said at least two buildings on Main Street are in flames. The buildings house several businesses, including a furniture store and a pharmacy.
The fire is threatening a Merchants Bank that is next door to the buildings that are on fire.

Crews have shut down part of the road and are diverting traffic.
NewsChannel 5 and TheChamplainChannel.com will have updates on this story.

Henry Raymond
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