Videos: Fire Destroys Frederick Johnson Pianos

  • Firefighters battle a large fire at Frederick Johnson Pianos, Inc. on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017 in White River Junction, Vt. (Valley News - Jovelle Tamayo) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Firefighters battle a large fire at Frederick Johnson Pianos, Inc. on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017 in White River Junction, Vt. (Valley News - Jovelle Tamayo) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Firefighters battle a large fire at Frederick Johnson Pianos, Inc. on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017 in White River Junction, Vt. (Valley News - Jovelle Tamayo) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/2/2017 11:02:10 PM
Modified: 2/3/2017 4:47:51 PM

FRIDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: Detective Sgt. Tom Williams, a fire investigator for the Vermont State Police, said the fire was accidental and related to the use of space heaters. Read more.

Continue reading after the video.

The building has been deemed a total loss.

White River Junction — Firefighters from around the Upper Valley worked well into the night to battle a major fire at Frederick Johnson Pianos in White River Junction.

The blaze was reported in the building’s basement shortly after 10 p.m. and slowly spread its way through the structure, illuminating the night sky and filling the Route 5 corridor with thick, dark smoke.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, Hartford Fire Chief Scott Cooney said at the scene late Thursday night.

“We have got a long night ahead of us,” Cooney said as the clock struck midnight.

It was too soon to say whether the piano shop would be a total loss, he said.

Because of heavy fire conditions, crews were forced to fight the blaze solely from the outside of the building. Firefighters had difficulty accessing the source of the fire, something Cooney attributed to the configuration of the old building.

The fire appeared to burn slowly; around 10:15 p.m., small streams of light gray smoke spiraled out of crevices in the building, while firefighters worked to run hose lines.

The smoke grew, eventually consuming the entire building before bursts of orange flames shot out from portions of the structure.

Firefighters continued to work for hours to put out the blaze, which was still burning early this morning. There was no word on injuries.

Frederick Johnson Pianos, founded in 1930, moved from Norwich to White River Junction in 1972, according to the company’s website, and keeps an inventory of “close to 100 pianos.”

Assessing records say the wood-frame building, built in 1970, is nearly 8,000 square feet, split between the first floor and basement, plus a 1,500-square-foot warehouse. It was most recently assessed at about $353,000.

Longtime co-owner and president Dale Howe, a well-known piano tuner in the Upper Valley, died in October; the other co-owner is Richard Johnson. According to the website, the business was for sale.

A woman representing the store was on scene Thursday night but declined to comment when approached by a reporter.

The Upper Valley has seen a string of fires this week, including in Hartland, Ascutney and Etna.

Temperatures in White River Junction dipped into the low 20s overnight.

Posted at 11 p.m. Thursday. Last updated at 1:10 a.m. Friday. Staff writers Matt Clary, Maggie Cassidy and Jeralyn Darling contributed to this report.




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