None hurt in two-alarm blast at Cersosimo Lumber

Reformer Staff

BRATTLEBORO, NH -- No injuries were reported in a two-alarm fire that broke out after an explosion in the boiler room of the main plant at Cersosimo Lumber Tuesday afternoon."It certainly was a catastrophic event for a few minutes," said Brattleboro Fire Chief David Emery. "The north and south walls (of the building) blew out, the east wall had cracks and the roof lifted and came down."The Brattleboro Fire Department first responded to the Route 142 fire at 1:14 p.m., and the fire went to a second alarm at 1:22 p.m. At the scene, firefighters were working carefully, Emery said, to make sure the structure did not collapse. He said the fire went to a second alarm because of the size of the building, the explosion and the potential for a collapse.The fire was in and on top of the vents inside the building, said Emery. There was a great deal of sawdust and smoke inside, he said, which made fighting the fire more challenging. In addition, the temperature in the boiler room was very hot -- in the 90s. At this point, officials do not know what caused the explosion. Gary Carrier, a vice-president at Cersosimo, said that the company would try to assess the damage and finding out what needs to be done to "make sure it doesn't happen again."Emery said there was no indication that it was a suspicious fire, and, apart from some cleaning solvents, no accelerants were found in the building.The boiler system uses waste products, such as sawdust and chips of wood, that are created by Cersosimo's lumber production, said Carrier. The system is used to not only heat the plant, but also to heat the dry kilns where the lumber is dried.Another fire broke out that eventually moved to the same building on the night of Nov. 7, 2002. However, Emery said there did not appear to be a relation between the two fires, and Carrier said that the 2000 fire was "an entirely different situation," because the earlier fire broke out in a pit and then spread to the building.The Putney, Hinsdale, New Hampshire and West Chesterfield, New Hampshire Fire Departments all responded to the scene. In addition to the the Brattleboro Fire Department, the Vernon Police Department, Resuce Inc., and the Salvation Army all responded to the scene.