Authorities Haven't Found Cause of Fire in Brattleboro, Vermont

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (AP) _ Authorities have not found the cause of an apartment fire that swept through an apartment building and left 30 people homeless over the weekend.

Brattleboro Fire Chief David Emery said the blaze apparently started in the basement of the four-story apartment building, but spread quickly to kitchens and bathrooms on all four floors.

He said the flames spread so fast because of the balloon structure of the building, climbing up a ''pipe chaseway'' at the rear of the building.

Emery said the fire department got word of the blaze at about 5:50 p.m. Friday and arrived on the scene to find heavy smoke already coming out of the first floor and the basement was ''well involved.''

However, because of a fire alarm in the 100-year-old building, Emery said, all the residents _ seven families _ were able to escape without injury.

''There was significant damage to the structure in the basement and up all four floors in the kitchens and bathrooms,'' he said. ''It will take some time if it is repaired at all.''

Emery said it was ''still too early to tell'' what started the fire. Some residents cited electrical problems in the building, but Emery only would say ''nothing has been ruled out yet.''

He added that the three investigating agencies hope to have some answers after a more thorough investigation.

''There was enough damage to the basement area that we need to sift through it more Monday to see if we can determine the exact cause,'' he said.

Although the 30 residents are either staying with friends or being housed in area hotels by the American Red Cross, Emery said that there is one bit of bright news for them.

''It appears as though a good share of their possessions are probably salvageable,'' he said. ''There was smoke damage through the whole structure, but their clothing and stuff appears as though it may be salvageable.''

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries battling the combustion: One received a laceration to his wrist, and the other was treated for exhaustion.

Information from: Rutland Herald