Fire struck an apartment building late Saturday morning at 2 Donohue Way in the town of Granville. The structure housed several tenants but no one was hurt, although two cats were lost to the flames.
Tenant Keanu Ellison was home when the blaze started.
“I’m sitting there, I’m playing video games, I have the screen window open,” he said. “I start smelling smoke and I thought it was the neighbors doing burn, then the living room started filling with smoke.
“I jumped up, turned around, there’s fire literally coming up underneath our porch,” he said.
Ellison’s wife, Kortni, was at work at Price Chopper at the time of the fire and received a call regarding it. When asked how long she has been residing there, she mentioned how difficult it was to find an apartment in Granville to begin with.
“Five months of being homeless, crashing from couch to couch with two dogs and my husband and finally found the place in January thanks to my friend Jami,” she said.
Penrhyn Engine & Hose Company chief Austin Perry said there was not an issue of response time for fire departments receiving the call, as he says the call came in around 12:05 p.m.
“The biggest problem we faced was it was the weekend of the town-wide yard sale,” Perry said. The traffic that was in the road… I saw the fire and just 30 cars in front of me blocking traffic. Once I pulled into the driveway, I called out our second alarm. We started knocking it down within 10 minutes of getting the call.”
Perry said the apartment building is an older structure, making it prone to burn.
“They (investigators) believe it started on the front side of the building,” Perry said. “We actually had a collapse on the inside of the building. The top two stories collapsed into the basement.”
After utilizing a tower truck, Perry said all the responding departments had a better advantage in extinguishing the fire. Granville Engine & Hose Company #1 chief Ryan Pedone said the tower truck’s nozzle could pump out four times the amount of water per minute than a normal handline could.
“We can run 1,000 gallons of water a minute out of the tip of the line,” Pedone said. “It’s a defensive tool but it makes things easier.”
Pedone added that the timing of the town-wide yard sale in Granville is notorious for big calls. With it being a beautiful, 70-degree day, Pedone said his crew had trouble getting to the scene with the monster-sized truck.
“We seem to get a call of serious magnitude (every year),” Pedone said. “Especially with days like (May 15), it makes our response time delayed.”
Ellison was treated for smoke inhalation on the scene and was approached by his landlord, Nate Loomis. According to Ellison, Loomis told him to “give him a call when everything is settled” and then left without speaking to fire officials.
Although the fire was still under investigation, Ellison speculated that the electrical is what ignited the fire. Perry said the cause is still yet to be determined, but that investigators are “not suspicious of arson.”.
“I wish the Granville landlords would stop renting out shit-shacks to Granville people, that’s what I wish,” Ellison said. “I literally have been telling him, she’s been telling him, we’ve been telling him for months that there’s an electrical issue in there.
“I’ve been trying to tell him there’s an electrical issue for the last three months because the bathroom light kept flickering on and off and shutting off on its own and kept coming back on,” Ellison added. “That was when you were getting in or out of the tub or just walking in the bathroom.”
NYVT Media has reached out to Loomis for a comment but has not heard back.
“I can’t even believe it,” Ellison said. “This isn’t even real to me yet. I haven’t even let it sink in. I work too…hard to get to where I am.”
Responding to the call with Penrhyn Engine & Hose Company were Granville Engine & Hose Company #1, North Granville Hose Company, Hartford Volunteer Fire Company, Hampton Volunteer Fire Company who provided traffic control, Poultney (Vermont) Fire Department, Wells (Vermont) Fire Department, West Pawlet (Vermont) Volunteer Fire Department who controlled water supply and Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company Inc.
Covering North Granville was the West Fort Ann Volunteer Fire Company. Middletown Springs (Vermont) Volunteer Fire Department provided backup for Poultney and Pawlet (Vermont) Volunteer Fire Department covered for both Granville and Middle Granville.