PHOTOS: Fire destroys Pi Brick Oven pizza restaurant building in the center of downtown Woodstock
Vermont Standard newspaper and Collective art cooperative also displaced by blaze
WOODSTOCK - A fire that was discovered just after 3 a.m. Monday morning gutted an antique building directly opposite the Post Office in downtown Woodstock.
The blaze began in an office space on the corner of the first floor used by the Pi Brick Oven Trattoria restaurant and rapidly extended upwards into two residential apartments.
Despite the efforts of 17 fire departments stretching from Hanover to Rutland City who came to help Woodstock's volunteer firefighters, the wooden building was completely destroyed but the adjoining stone building, which houses the offices of the 165-year-old Vermont Standard newspaper and an art cooperative known as the Collective was largely spared heat and water damaged but were inundated with smoke.
Safes and computers were pulled from the Standard during the early phases of the fire and the paper is being rapidly reconstituted in spaces donated by the Norman Williams Public Library in downtown Woodstock.
The fire is the largest in decades to strike in the heart of Woodstock Village
The blaze was directly across from the Woodstock Post Office and the town's old fire station on Central Street. Central Street is the part of busy Route 4 that passes right through the Village.
Thick smoke hung in a cloud over Woodstock Monday morning and blotted out the sun on High Street
The antique block consists of both a wooden and a stone block that was once a mill on the Kedron Brook
Firefighters drafted water from the Kedron Brook to feed portable tanks set up on Central Street
Large sections of the downtown were shut down to accommodate the day-long effort
A firefighter from Hartland and a firefighter from Windsor were taken to hospitals due to heat exhaustion
Even though his personal office was destroyed, Vermont Standard publisher Phil Camp kept right on covering the news
Camp (with Woodstock Firefighter Tom Emery) has ensured that the Standard has never missed an issue, even when flooding during Tropical Storm Irene wrecked the newspaper's previous offices in 2011
Firefighters worked on even as mid-day temperatures approached 90 degrees
State fire marshals and investigators were called in to look for the cause of the two-alarm fire
Investigators ruled out the kitchen and concentrated on a small corner office on the first floor
Woodstock Fire Chief David Green (center, white helmet) was in command of the incident
Investigators are ruling the fire as "undetermined" right now while they await lab tests on some debris
Woodstock Police Chief Robbie Blish (left) was briefed by the investigators who packed samples into sterile metal paint cans for the trip to the lab
The investigators described their inquiries as routine and said there was nothing obviously suspicious about the fire
Firefighters helped remove art work from the Collective so that it would not be damaged by the overhaul operation
Once investigators were clear of the building an excavator was brought in to get at the remaining hot spots
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