By Gareth Henderson
PLYMOUTH – Plymouth and five other fire departments took out a raging fire at a condominium building above the former Round Top ski area on Monday.
Although firefighters initially saw most of the roof engulfed upon arriving, only one of the eight condo units was lost. The adjoining unit had extensive smoke and water damage. There were no injuries.
The fire brought its own unique set of challenges for first responders, mostly involving the steep Upper Round Top Road that led to the scene. Several perilous switchbacks, icy conditions and frigid temperatures combined to make it a 13-hour fire call for the Plymouth crew.
“Probably the worst night I ever spent in my life,” Plymouth firefighter Tom Marrone said.
Fellow Plymouth firefighter Al Poirier commented, “Making those switchbacks with big fire trucks is a difficult swing in the summer,” and even more so in the winter.
The cause of the fire was unclear Wednesday morning. Marrone said the charred debris of the burned condo unit might not yield much evidence.
“There’s not much to look at there,” he said.
A neighbor reported the fire at about 2:30 p.m. on Monday. Plymouth’s tanker was the first vehicle to make it up the road, Marrone said, but the department’s two-wheel drive trucks had to wait at the bottom of the road for four-wheelers to arrive. Ludlow and Bridgewater arrived and made it to the top of the road with their four-wheelers. Fire departments from Killington, Proctorsville and Mount Holly also assisted, and Woodstock Ambulance was on stand-by for hours. Firefighters had to run water lines about 2,000 feet up the steep, winding road to fight the blaze.
“All the departments worked together extremely well,” Poirier said.
Plymouth highway foreman Larry Lynds – who was in the midst of cleaning up after that epic ice storm from Sunday – kept sanding and salting Upper Round Top Road throughout the ordeal. The other fire departments left the scene in the early morning hours. However, Plymouth ran into trouble when it couldn’t extinguish some wreckage that was still smoldering.
“We could see flames in the basement, but we couldn’t get a hose on it,” Marrone said.
The crew called Greg Mosher in from West Bridgewater at about 3 a.m., and Mosher brought his excavator to move some of the debris.
“Otherwise, it probably would have ended up burning for a week,” Marrone added.
That assist cleared the way for Plymouth to douse the remaining flames and clean up the scene. Their work was finally done at 4:45 a.m.
This article first appeared in the March 10th print edition of the Vermont Standard.