By Lynn Monty, Editor in Chief
It was a conflagration like no other for the Metropoulos-Moulton family last weekend. Even though this blaze was planned, it was still breathtaking, Catherine Metropoulos said. She’s lived on Route 7 in Charlotte since 1984, and now her adult daughter, Christina Metropoulos Moulton, purchased a home right next door with plans to completely rebuild.
“Better to knock it down and start new,” Catherine Metropoulos said. “How lucky am I to have my daughter living next door?”
Since the Ethan Allen Highway home needed to be demolished, it was given to Charlotte Fire and Rescue where they and departments from other towns, including a SWAT team, used it for training over the past month until it was finally burned to the ground, Metropoulos said.
The large-scale, live burn included several agencies from all over Vermont and a couple from New York that came to learn about Charlotte’s compressed air foam system. Crews also worked on ventilating roofs, rescue and evacuation, observing fire behavior and used thermal imaging cameras.
The house was also made available to the Vermont State Police. Collectively the building was used for close to 1,500 man-hours’ worth of training that would not be available any other way to these departments, Charlotte Fire Department Chief Dick St. George said.
Shelburne volunteer firefighter Lee Krohn said, “While some may decry burning down what may appear to be a perfectly good house, it was going to be demolished anyway; and the skills practiced over these past several months may well be lifesaving one day, whether for firefighters themselves and/or occupants of a home or business. And that’s priceless.”
The Charlotte Fire Department would like to thank everyone who participated or helped make the live burn training weekend happen, St. George said. “The number of people who were involved is huge, starting with a homeowner willing to donate a structure, to the people making lunches, to the firefighters patiently waiting their turn to go in. Great weekend. Thanks to all.”