BERLIN – Firefighters kept a downtown fire from jumping to nearby buildings on Sunday, though the empty building at 148 Pleasant St. where the fire started is a total loss.
The unoccupied three-story building was demolished after the fire. The city owned the building, having taken it for unpaid taxes, which facilitated the swift demolition.
"The building was unsafe due to partial collapse,"?Captain Gary Coulombe said late Sunday afternoon.
Initially, four on-duty firefighters responded to the 4:15 a.m. call, with others arriving after a general alarm went out. Coulombe said firefighters tried to access the second floor at first, but, "It just got to hot." Fire was discovered on the first floor, also.
Firefighters quickly set up set a master stream at the rear of the buildings, bringing equipment through the alley separating the lower Pleasant Street buildings from the rear of Main Street buildings.
"The wind direction was in our favor today," Coulombe said. "We managed to keep the fire from spreading."
Coulombe said parts of the building collapsed, with the roof pancaking onto lower floors. A section of the building's brick façade had pulled away, taking the wood with it, he said.
The back of the building faced a Main Street building that until recently housed the Family Dollar store. There are no buildings to its south. There were several buildings, which housed five businesses, on lower Pleasant Street, but they burned in a massive fire in April 2004.
The cause of Sunday's fire is under investigation.