White River Junction — A Vermont state fire marshal on Thursday said Wednesday afternoon’s fire on Crystal Place started after the owner discarded a cigarette butt in a pail on the front porch of the two-unit apartment building.
Fire Marshal Mike Bedard said there was “a bunch of paper” in the galvanized pail at the time; he attributed the cause of the fire to “abandoned smoking materials.”
He has ruled the fire accidental in nature.
According to Bedard, building owner Mike Magnus told officials that he put his cigarette butt in the pail about 60-90 minutes before he noticed the front porch was engulfed in flames.
Two firefighters suffered minor injuries in Wednesday’s fire, as did one of the building’s tenants.
Bedard said the firefighters, who were transported via ambulance to the hospital, suffered heat exhaustion and related injuries.
They have since been released, he said.
Resident Robert Perigny suffered minor burns to his left arm and denied treatment at the scene.
The two-alarm fire displaced Magnus, Perigny and Magnus’ cousin.
The fire burned for more than two hours and heavily damaged the building, as well as two cars in the driveway.
The building sat at the end of a narrow dead-end street in a community near Hartford High School. A plume of smoke could be seen for miles, causing a crowd of curious passersby to gather in the area.
Magnus has owned the building since 1986.
The building likely will need to be demolished, the fire chief said Wednesday.