Brattleboro Landmark Damaged By Fire May Be Salvageable

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(Host) Word came today that an historic building in downtown Brattleboro heavily damaged by fire may be salvageable.

The town’s fire chief says that’s the latest verdict for the Brooks House.

A fire Sunday heavily damaged upper floors of the landmark building. Smoke and water affected the rest of the Victorian structure.

Officials were meeting today with some of the retail businesses that were affected.

Jeff Lewis of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation says it’s too early for any of them to say what they will do.

But he says the fire will take a toll on Brattleboro.

(Lewis)"You’ve lost seven businesses on Main Street the center of the town. You’ve lost seven businesses that were working on Main Street. Part of the town will be a construction site for some time."

(Host) Retail operators were allowed to return to their businesses very briefly Tuesday afternoon. One of them was Ana McDaniel, the manager of The Book Cellar, a 60 year old book store on the building’s ground floor.

(McDaniel) "We were able to sort of one by one, in small groups, go into our businesses under the escort of a fire fighter. It’s very, very wet, and our initial impression also is that there’s probably very little that can be salvaged of our stock. Books and paper don’t mix very well with smoke and water."

(Host) Firefighters dumped nearly two million gallons of water on the building while fighting the blaze. Crews and heavy equipment have already begun demolishing the badly burned upper portion of the building.

Vermont’s Red Cross jumped in quickly to provide shelter for the displaced residents, who occupied the upper floors.

Bruce Pollock is the agency’s deputy chief response officer for Vermont. He says a local assistance gathering is planned for residents this evening.

(Pollock) "And the residents of Brooks House can come there and meet with people about permanent housing. They’ll see about replacement of driver’s licenses, tax documents, social security cards, all of the basic necessities that these people have lost in the fire because all of their records and items were destroyed."

(Host) Meanwhile, officials in Brattleboro have been working to restore normal traffic throughout the downtown, which has been disrupted since Sunday.

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