Braving near-zero temperatures, firefighters from seven communities battled a late morning fire in Hinesburg last Friday that destroyed an apartment and garage and killed five pets.
According to a fire department statement, firefighters were called at 10:40 a.m. and as they were mobilizing, additional calls came in prompting dispatchers to contact more departments for help.
Crews from Charlotte, Richmond, Shelburne, Monkton, Starksboro, Williston, along with Saint Michael’s Rescue all responded to the fire which engulfed the three-car garage along with its second-story apartment at 1761 North Road.
Firefighters took steps to protect a nearby home when flames started encroaching on it, they said; crews remained on the icy site until around 1:40 p.m.
As for the cause, the department statement said: “It was determined the fire started in the area of a hot tub.”
The home’s two residents were not at home when the fire started, fire officials said. However, dispatch received reports of three dogs and two cats in the garage at the time and none survived. Residents Elizabeth and Brian Hathaway lived in the apartment.
Representatives from the American Red Cross were also on site and helped first responders with food and water. The Red Cross also assisted the Hathaways who lost most of their belongings in the blaze.
Their niece, Stephanie Gingras, set up an online fundraising page on GoFundMe.com that had already raised more than $5,100 as of Tuesday evening.
An update said the couple has found a temporary apartment and it acknowledges the outpouring of support. “They are deeply grateful for all that everyone is doing,” Gingras.