“I wondered if we were going to be able to save the building.” Mead said. “The fire was already through the roof then we got there. Our guys and the mutual-aid guys did a great job to save the first floor. There was no damage down there except for some water.”
At least five classic cars which were under reconstruction on the ground floor, were moved out and suffered no damage.
“It’s a good thing there were onlookers there to help us move the cars,” Mead said, “We were able to get them out without damage.”
The second floor was another story. “It was pretty badly damaged. It is not habitable,” Mead said. “The fire was too intense up there.”
The incident was originally called in as a barn fire, but Mead quickly realized there was an apartment on the second floor. “There was one occupant, but he got out before we got there,” Mead said.
The fire was apparently caused by a gas stove on the second floor. Mead said investigators were unsure whether the fire started in the stove itself or in a pan that had grease in it. “The guy said he was using the other burner, and the fire started, then hit the pan and went right up the wall from there.”
Scott Jackman, who works in the shop for his uncle, said there was a three-bedroom apartment under construction on the second floor.
The cars included two 1960s-vintage Mustangs, a 1939 Oldsmobile and a 1969 Plymouth Barracuda, of which one of the Mustangs and the Oldsmobile were removed safely.
The original emergency call was for flames through the roof, and the fire and smoke was primarily visible in the steeple. Crews were able to knock down the flames relatively quickly, but they were struggling to extinguish smoldering areas between the wooden frame and the slate roof.
Mead said it was due to the solid construction of the old post-and-beam building. He said the building, owned by John Trombley and being leased by the shop owner, was built in 1820.
Departments from Hampton and Poultney arrived initially, and Mead immediately called for Middle Granville, Fair Haven, and Granville, which sent a ladder truck. Emergency services crews from Fair Haven and Poultney were also on the scene.
“I want to thank my volunteers and the others who came up,” said Mead, who estimated there were about 30 volunteers there.
Mead said the call was Hampton’s 28th of the year – the department has had an additional one since. His department has been averaging 28 calls in an average year.