The Sunday morning fire that heavily damaged a Granville apartment complex has been blamed on window curtains that came in contact with an electric heater.
Granville Fire Chief Ryan Pedone said the curtains in apartment 7 of Mettowee Valley Apartments were in contact with a baseboard electric heater, which heated up to the point it set the curtains ablaze. The fire spread to a nearby couch and quickly through the apartment.
“The residents woke up because of a smoke alarm, and they got out. We got there and had to make sure the other apartments were evacuated before we could get to work on the fire,” Pedone said.
No one was hurt in the 6:42 a.m. blaze at the Franklin Avenue complex, but volunteer firefighters from Washington and Warren counties and western Vermont spent much of Sunday there. Six apartments were damaged in all, and at least 11 residents were routed from their homes.
Pedone is a Granville Police sergeant who had just finished an overnight shift when the fire call came in.
He said the fire had already spread to apartment 10 when he got to the scene, and was working its way across the attics of the apartments because of a lack of “fire breaks” that would have slowed it.
Building codes did not require them when the complex was built in the 1980s, he said.
“Once it got into the roof, it just ran along the roof from one apartment to the next,” he said.
Pedone said the heater was part of the the installed heating system for the home, and not a portable space heater. It likely got extra hot as the temperatures plummeted well below zero.
Residents need to be particularly vigilant about heating sources during the bitter cold.
“Keep everything away from heating sources, especially this time of year when they are overloaded trying to keep up with the cold,” the chief said.
The fire was one of two major fires that firefighters in Washington County dealt with on Sunday.
A home on Mulberry Street in Hudson Falls was also damaged Sunday afternoon, and Hudson Falls Fire Chief Mike Fitzgerald said the investigation into that fire was ongoing Tuesday, but it appeared to be accidental.