RUTLAND - When Mary Jane Eckhardt realized there was a fire in the building that houses her condominium on Maple Avenue Friday afternoon, she began banging on doors to alert her neighbors, stopping only when the smoke turned her back.

She pounded so hard on their doors, she injured her hand but she was worried that some folks might not get out.

“I wasn’t just going to leave,” she said. “There are elderly people. I wanted to make sure everyone got out.”

The fire that sent her fleeing the building started around 2 p.m. in one of the more than 20 condominiums in the building. It left the resident who lives there badly burned, Fire Chief Seth Knipe said.

In all, 50 residents from Countryside Estates condominiums were being helped by the American Red Cross Friday night, the chief said.

Firefighters who arrived first found heavy smoke and fire coming from the building and rescued several residents who were unable to escape on their own. Ladders were lined up to the balconies of the second-floor units.

Once the fire was brought under control, firefighters went from unit to unit rescuing pets, including several cats and an elderly guinea pig.

They gathered up medications for residents who likely won’t be able to return to their homes for several weeks, Chief Knipe said.

Candace Villani said Ms. Eckhardt helped alert her to the fire and said her actions were heroic. “It’s a horrible feeling,” she said, of seeing the fire so close to her condominium.

Ms. Villani and Ms. Eckhardt said they’re concerned that the fire might have been started by a resident smoking, something they said has been an ongoing problem even though it’s against the rules.

The state fire marshal’s office was called in to assist with the investigation and the chief said a cause of the fire was not known Friday night.

Firefighters from Oakham, Spencer, Paxton and several other area towns helped fight the fire and mop up afterward. Others were on standby at the Rutland Fire Station in case of another fire in town.

The Box 4 canteen truck from Worcester and the state Division of Fire Services rehabilitation truck were also at the scene assisting firefighters.

The fire forced police to close Maple Street for several hours.


pic.twitter.com/dzonxJYcFe


— Spencer Fire (@SpencerFire1) January 12, 2018


//
//
//
//
//
//
//
//
//
//
//
//
//
//
//