By Katy Savage
Gilmore Home Center, which has been part of the Castleton community for more than 60 years, was destroyed in a fire on Sunday night.
Castleton Fire Chief Heath Goyette said the building is a total loss.
“They’re a staple operation in this community,” he said. “It’s going to be missed.”
Goyette first responded to a report of a vehicle emitting smoke in the parking lot of Gilmore Home Center around 11 p.m. on Jan. 15.
“On my way there, it was the building showing heavy smoke,” he said.
Goyette saw no visible flames at first, but minutes later, “The front of the building had opened up and heavy fire was shown all throughout the building,” he said. “We just started battling the blaze.”
Eleven other fire departments were called in to help. It took fire crews about six hours to put the fire out. Route 4A was closed down in the meantime.
“The fire load was just massive,” Goyette said. “We couldn’t even begin to overcome it.”
Goyette said the fire eventually burned through the roof and ventilated itself while an aerial truck from the West Rutland Fire Dept. poured water from the top.
Extinguishing the flames took the community’s help. Two excavation companies — Trudo and Sons and Jack Bowen Excavating from next door started tearing down part of the building with excavators so crews could put the fire out.
“The hardware portion of the building is a total loss,” Goyette said.
Goyette said a lumber yard, which stretches 3/4 of an acre, and Gilmore Home Center’s kitchen and bath showroom, called Collaborations, were both salvaged.
“They hope to get a temporary office put up so they can at least keep the lumber yard portion of the business up and going,” Goyette said.
It’s unclear what caused the fire. The store was open until 2 p.m. on Saturday and it was closed on Sunday when the fire occurred. Goyette said the fire could have been smoldering for a while.
Goyette said a salvaged hard drive with video camera footage might be able to pinpoint the cause.
“Maybe the cameras could pick up where they first saw fire,” Goyette said.
The 60-by-125-foot building contained a number of fire hazards, such as stains, plumbing and electric supplies. The fire is not suspicious at this time, Goyette said. Fire inspectors were on scene on Tuesday, Jan. 17.
It’s unclear what the total loss would be assessed at.
“If somebody said it was over $500,000 to $1 million it wouldn’t surprise me,” Goyette said.
Gilmore Home Center thanked the community on Facebook and asked what they would like to see at the location as they plan to rebuild.
“We look forward to serving in the future and will announce our plans as they unfold,” the post said, adding, “We can feel the wind shifting now toward a bright future for our community as we process the loss and plan for the next chapter of Gilmore Home Center.”
Goyette said he went in the store multiple times a week himself “to pick up odds and ends.”
“I’m sure hoping that they are going to rebuild,” he said.
Goyette thanked the community, explaining a number of people made the fire fighters hot chocolate and coffee.
“The community was awesome for us,” Goyette said.