On The Job: VERMONT

On Sunday, Nov. 2, 2008, a five-alarm fire destroyed a historic railroad roundhouse in White River Junction, VT, that was being used by several businesses. The 150-by-150-foot, heavy-timber-and-brick structure was built in 1929 by the Central Vermont...


On Sunday, Nov. 2, 2008, a five-alarm fire destroyed a historic railroad roundhouse in White River Junction, VT, that was being used by several businesses. The 150-by-150-foot, heavy-timber-and-brick structure was built in 1929 by the Central Vermont Railroad and used as a roundhouse for repairing...


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Captain Raymond Bushey was assigned as Division C supervisor and Whitcomb was assigned as Division A supervisor. Lebanon Ladder 1 was positioned at the A/D corner and set up for aerial master stream operations with its initial water supply being a 200-foot, four-inch line from Hartford Engine 2. The crew from Norwich Engine 1 connected to a hydrant on North Main Street and hand-laid a 500-foot, four-inch line to supplement the water supply to Hartford Engine 2. Hartland Engine 1 deployed a portable monitor on side A supplied by a 200-foot, four-inch line from Hartford Engine 2.

Responding on the third alarm were Woodstock Engine 1, a 1,250-gpm pumper; Plainfield, NH, Engine 2, a 1,250-gpm pumper; Hanover, NH, Engine 5, a 1,250-gpm pumper; and Claremont, NH Ladder 2, a 110-foot aerial. In order to provide an additional water supply to Hartford Ladder 1, Hartford Engine 1 and Woodstock Engine 1 laid a total of 1,300 feet of four-inch supply line from side D to a hydrant on Fairview Terrace off of Route 4. Hartford Engine 1 hooked onto the hydrant with a soft sleeve and pumped to Woodstock Engine 1, which supplied Hartford Ladder 1. Claremont Ladder 2 was positioned at the B/C corner and set up for aerial master stream operations. This unit was supplied by Norwich Engine 2 through a 200-foot, four-inch line from Lantern Lane. Lebanon, NH, Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Libbey was assigned as Division B supervisor.

Command requested a fourth alarm at 1:21. Responding were Windsor Engine 1, a 1,500-gpm pumper; Lebanon Engine 1, a 1,500-gpm pumper; Thetford Engine 2, a 1,500-gpm pumper; and Bradford Tower 1, a 95-foot tower ladder with a 1,500-gpm pump. In order to supply Lebanon Ladder 1 with additional water, Hanover Engine 5 and Plainfield Engine 2 laid a 2,700-foot, four-inch line to a hydrant on North Main Street. Hanover Engine 5 hooked onto the hydrant and pumped to Windsor Engine 1, which inline-pumped to Lebanon Ladder 1.

A fifth alarm was requested at 1:34. South Royalton Engine 1, a 1,000-gpm pumper; and Enfield Engine 5, a 1,500-gpm pumper, responded. South Royalton Engine 1, Thetford Engine 2 and Lebanon Engine 2 established a 2,700-foot, four-inch supply line to a hydrant at the Pleasant View Motel to feed Hanover Tower 1. The initial supply line to this tower had been switched to feed Claremont Ladder 2.

Continuing Operations

Four aerial devices, one at each corner; three portable monitors on side A; one on side B; two on side C and one on side D were used to control the fire. Bradford Tower 1 was staged at the scene. The Sharon and Ascutney fire departments provided standby coverage at Hartford's stations. At 3:30 P.M., command requested that the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources be notified due to the large amount of runoff. Firefighters placed numerous booms and pads to collect pollutants before they entered the White River, which is a direct tributary to the Connecticut River. Environmental officials were satisfied with the containment measures that were in place upon their arrival.

Locke declared the fire under control at 6:20 P.M. The release of mutual aid units began at 7 P.M. and was completed at 11:30 P.M. An overnight fire watch was established with Hartford Engine 1 and Ladder 1. The last Hartford equipment left the scene at 6:41 P.M. on Tuesday, Nov. 4. More than 100 firefighters operated 20 engines, six aerial devices and seven support vehicles at the scene. A total of 1.5 million gallons of water was used to extinguish the fire. The water source was six hydrants on the municipal water system.

An investigation conducted by the Vermont State Police; federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); Division of Fire Safety and the Hartford Fire Department is ongoing at this time. Investigators do not believe that the fire was suspicious. Damage was estimated at $4 million.

JAY K. BRADISH/IFPA, Firehouse® news editor, is a former captain in the Bradford Township, PA, Fire Department. He has been a volunteer firefighter and fire photographer for more than 25 years.