Fire rips through downtown Brattleboro building - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Fire rips through downtown Brattleboro building

Courtesy: Maria DeLuca Courtesy: Maria DeLuca

Brattleboro, Vermont - April 18, 2011

An overnight fire literally brought Brattleboro to a standstill-- with all business in one section of Main Street at least temporarily shut down.

"We are in shock right now," said Ana McDaniel of the Book Cellar. "It is a bit of a surreal experience, lots of unknowns."

The fire broke out Sunday a little before 9 p.m. Fire crews say the fourth and fifth floors of the Brooks House, as it is called, received extensive damage. The building houses 59 apartments and 10 businesses. Luckily everybody was able to make it out safely, including fourth floor resident Deanna Garcia.

"Actually it was unreal," Garcia said. "I can just say that last night, I don't know, it was just like it wasn't really happening."

Gov. Peter Shumlin toured the aftermath of the fire Monday morning. Shumlin grew up in the area.

"We are lucky to live in Vermont where communities come together in tragedies, to turn tragedies into opportunities. First of all we are extraordinary grateful that the firefighters got everyone out safe," said Shumlin, D-Vermont.

Now the question is, what comes next for a town that revitalization officials say was on the rise?

"Through this recession our downtown has stayed quite vital, and unfortunately most of the vacancies on Main Street that we could have relocated people into were in the building," said Andrea Livermore of Building a Better Brattleboro.

In the mean time, those affected are coping with their loss, trying to put a positive spin on what is clearing a huge blow for the community.

"I think as I am getting older, I don't care that much about my possessions, so I am not really that upset," Garcia said.

"Could have been a lot worse; no one has been hurt and the structure is standing," McDaniel said.

The Red Cross is helping those who are displaced. Also the Marlboro Graduate Center in downtown Brattleboro is opening up a room for business owners to access a computer and do administrative work.

No word yet on what sparked the blaze. Officials continue to investigate the exact origin and cause, but at this time they say it does not appear to be suspicious.

Adam Sullivan - WCAX News

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