Fire officials have turned over two Nelson rental homes on Mill Street, damaged in a weekend fire, to the owners and several insurance companies.
The fire happened in the 600 block of Mill between Josephine Street and Hall Street around 10:30 p.m. on Saturday.
In an interview with Vista Radio, Nelson Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Jeff Hebert says it was “a very extensive fire early on” based on videos on social media and their response time was quick considering the fire station is a block and a half away.
He says their investigation is just about done.
“We are buttoning up our investigation and have released the two properties to their owners and insurance companies so they can have their fire cause and origin investigators investigate that,” Hebert says.
As for what started the fire, Hebert says they have a good idea.
“We have determined the point of origin and we have a suspected cause but until the document and the report is submitted to the Office of the Fire Commissioner I can’t really comment on the specifics that we found,” Hebert said.
As for the damage to both rental homes, Hebert believes both of them are salvageable but there will be extensive repairs needed to the home where the fire started. The second house where the fire spread had “a large amount of vermiculite” insulation and could possibly “extend the amount of work.” Vermiculite is known to contain cancer-causing asbestos.
The assistant chief says approximately five tenants were displaced and one person was treated and released from hospital with “some first and second degree burns on various parts of their body. They are recovering and I believe (they are) doing well.”
Hebert couldn’t say whether smoke alarms had helped the tenants escape because they were badly damaged by the fire, but believes they were. He says the house where the fire started was “very well maintained” and looked like it had gone through a “fairly extensive remodel and renovation in the past.”
The assistant chief says the weekend fire underscores the need to call the fire department first when you discover a fire instead of taking it on yourself.
“Everybody wants to try and extinguish a fire and to get it as fast as possible. We have the tools to do that so, if after you’ve made the call to the fire department, you decide you try and attack the fire and minimize the damage yourself and you think it’s safe to do so, then that’s your prerogative but just don’t delay the call to the fire department.”