Blaze Hits Vermont Fire Station

LYNDONVILLE VT - An early morning blaze damaged fire engines and destroyed equipment of the Lyndonville Fire Department today.

At 5:15, dark blue smoke blanketed the fire station at the corner of Church and Grove streets as flames stretched out the back office windows. Smoke streamed out the front doors of the two bays as firefighters worked to extract the six fire vehicles kept in the building.

All the fire apparatus - the two pumper trucks, the tanker, the ladder truck, the support van, and the rescue vehicle - were damaged by the blaze, said Lyndonville Fire Lt. Barry Brooks. The extent and cost of the damage are still unknown.

Firefighters worked to pry open the two garage doors that were jammed half open. Half a dozen worked to rip off one metal door and one man entered the black smoke to retrieve the ladder truck. As it exited, the crew shouted for the driver to stop as the bucket was in flames.

Then came the Mac pumper truck, charred with plastic fire gear that had melted onto its side.

At this time, the trucks are being store at the former Northeast Tool Division building on Pudding Hill. Fire Chief Greg Hopkins is inspecting to gauge the damage.

Much of the firefighters' protective turnout gear was stored in the building and there was not much that could be done until other departments arrived to assist the Lyndonville firefighters. About half the turnout gear, including coats, pants, boots, helmets and gloves, were destroyed, said Brooks. After the trucks were removed, firefighters ran into the building to retrieve whatever they could.

The crew from the St. Johnsbury Fire Department arrived around 5:25 and soon the sound of spraying water mixed with the crackle of shattering glass. The East Burke Fire Brigade set up its tower truck and worked to extinguish flames on the roof. Later Tower 4 from St. Johnsbury joined in the assault. The Sheffield-Wheelock Fire Department also assisted at the scene.

The frigid weather, minus 7 degrees according to the Lyndonville Savings Bank thermometer, added to the difficulties. The water quickly turned to ice and firefighters spread salt to prevent falls.

By midmorning the fire is pretty much under control although firefighters were still spraying the smoking building with water.

The Caledonia County Disaster Team of the American Red Cross provided hot beverages and food to the firefighters.

The Lyndonville Electric Department shares the building with the fire department, but none of its equipment was damaged, said LED manager Ken Mason. The LED offices did sustain some smoke damage however. The village of Lyndonville owns the building.

The fire department section of the building, on the Church Street side, was gutted, but the walls are still standing.

The cause of the blaze is unknown, though the flames and smoke were concentrated in the back office. State police have been called in to investigate the blaze.

A St. Johnsbury fire truck will remain in Lyndonville to cover any fire calls there this morning.

Staff writer Jeanne Miles contributed to this story.