TOWNSEND--Twenty-eight people were displaced after a four-alarm fire ripped through a multi-unit apartment building Monday night. Just before 8 p.m. Townsend Fire Department was dispatched to 48 Fitchburg Road where a 28 unit brick building was fully engulfed in flames.
Chief Mark Boynton, who called the building a total loss, said that no injuries were reported but two fire fighters suffered heat exhaustion and were treated at the scene. "We believe the fire started in a first floor bathroom," he said. "But an investigation is underway."
About 100 firefighters from several neighboring communities battled the blaze for more than 4 hours. "The water supply was 'fair'," said Boynton. "The town water system couldn't keep up so we had to run a line from the Squannacook (River)." Two people remain unaccounted for but after a preliminary walk-through of the building, which is less than half a mile from the fire station, Boynton believes that everyone escaped.
Several pets were also rescued and 18 displaced residents spent the night at a shelter in St. John's Church, where many still linger. "We lost everything," said Marion Figueroa, a third floor resident who first smelled the smoke before alerting neighbors. "I was in the shower and smelled smoke through the vent," he said. "My wife was cooking in the kitchen so I asked if she was burning something.
When his wife said she did not, he went outside his unit. "I saw a lot of smoke in the hallway and started knocking on doors. A few minutes later the the fire alarms started going off."
He, along with his wife and stepdaughter who lived in another unit in the building, remain at the sheltered, where Red Cross personnel and church volunteers offered support. "We still have our jobs," a distraught Figueroa added. "But we have no place to stay."