PHOTOS: Firefighters rescue and resuscitate cat at Butternut Lane Apartments fire in West Lebanon

Three out of the 18 apartments in building rendered uninhabitable

WEST LEBANON, NH - A smokey fire damaged three apartments right in the center of the largest building in the Butternut Lane Apartment complex late Wednesday evening.

    Dominick Wood, who will be a sophomore when he returns to Lebanon High this fall, was on the lower level of the building when he heard the fire alarm going off on the second floor above him.

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    "I ran upstairs and there was a bunch of smoke pouring out (of the center apartment) so I ran over and bashed on the door and called in through the windows," Wood recounted.  

    After not hearing any sort of response from the woman or her three children who usually live in the apartment Wood said, "The first thing I did was run back to my house and got everybody out of my house and then I went over and knocked on other doors and got them out.  My dad came out and grabbed the fire extinguisher and my brother kicked open the door and then my dad used the fire extinguisher."

    "We all tried to go inside with another neighbor but we didn't make it in too far because there wasn't any way to see.   We started to yell but we didn't hear anything back so we figured there wasn't anyone in there," Wood explained.

A strobe light from the fire alarm system illuminates crews entering the burning second and third floor apartments

    Lebanon Fire Chief Chris Christopoulos said his department was alerted when someone in one of the smaller neighboring buildings pulled their fire alarm and first responders quickly upgraded the call to a full first alarm bringing in Hartford and Hanover as well.

   The first arriving engine crew from Station Two in West Lebanon arrived "amazingly fast," according to neighbors, and knocked down the bulk of the fire before initiating a "primary search" of the fire apartment and apartments above and on either side of it, confirming that indeed no one was home.

    "The fire was mostly contained to the bathroom but it did burn through the ceiling and into the third floor apartment," the chief noted, adding "We're lucky nobody got hurt.  It's a very, very occupied building."

    With smoke and some fire damage to the apartment above and water damage to the apartment below, the chief said residents from a total of 3 of the building's 18 apartments were going to be displaced but the bulk of the apartments were turned back over to their residents at 1 a.m. Thursday.

    "Thankfully we had a crew in Station Two and they weren't on another call," the chief said, "Had there been a delay in our response getting over here from city side it would have been a much bigger fire.  It's a good thing we have an occupied station on this side of town.  The guys did a fantastic job.  Two guys knocked the fire down and they did it in this heat."

Neighbors helped evacuate an elderly residence who relies on a walker from her apartment

Residents watched anxiously as firefighters attacked the smokey fire

Lebanon Fire Captain Jim Wheatley brings out a cat that had suffered smoke inhalation

Wheatley shows the limp cat to Lebanon Firefighter Kayleigh Eastman who had been running the ladder truck

Eastman ran to get medical gear off of another fire truck in the parking lot

Hanover Fire Captain Josh Merriam helps set up the oxygen bottle for the cat

Lebanon Firefighter Ian Dewey and Eastman used special pet rescue masks to keep the oxygen flowing

After about 10 minutes the cat pushed the face mask back and began to look around

The cat was taken by residents of the complex to a local animal hospital for observation and Eastman returned to operating the pumps on the ladder truck

Vermont News can be contacted at vermontnews802@gmail.colm

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