Sunday, April 8, 2007

Fire at Wilmington's Bank Building

The burned out building, still standing
Wilmington lost one of its historic buildings in an early morning fire Sunday. According to witnesses at the scene, the fire at the former Vermont National Bank building was reported by passing truck driver at about 4:30 am. Fire was already showing, and the building was quickly consumed.

View from the front of the building

Power was out throughout the valley from 4:30 am until 9:30 and later in some areas. Power, phone, and cable crews worked throughout the morning to restore services. Traffic was halted on Route 9 east and west, and Route 100 north for about 12 hours.

From the east side of the building - Dot's Diner is just visible through the charred studs.

The building was in such precarious condition, local officials called in an excavator to take down the remainder of the building as a safety precaution.

View from the bridge. Note the melted vinyl hanging off the home center wall.

Although fire damaged the vinyl siding on the Wilmington Home Center, peripheral damage was minimal. Fire department officials said a strong northerly wind kept the fire from spreading to a jewelry store and the Village Pub to the south. In addition, the south wall of the old bank building was brick, perhaps protecting the former bank's vault, also located along the south wall.

An excavator begins pulling the structure down
Curiously, the jewelry store building just to the south of the burning building, located a mere foot or two away, suffered almost no damage. Even the snow on the roof wasn't melted.
On the downwind side, however, it was a different story. The plastic housing of the traffic lights at the intersection was melted, and crosswalk signs by the Parmelee & Howe building and the Wilmington Home Center were both melted.

Fire investigators search the debris. The bank vault is still standing. A vault that had been on the second floor is visible to the left of the main vault.

Fire investigators worked closely with demolition teams to examine the ruins as the debris was being pulled away.

A fire investigator emerges from the building's basement

View from the bridge before nightfall

By about 5 pm, much of the building had been removed. Crews remained into the evening, replacing utility lines and working to restore service.


ssmith said...

what a shame

krawjay said...

Very sad. I hope the town can come together quickly to find a suitable structure or use for that important location in town. As someone who visits frequently and enjoys the charms of Wilmington's downtown - I'm hoping for a quick recovery from this tragedy. Good luck.