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Century-old barn burns in massive Rutland Town structure fire

Century -old Barn Burns La Foto 2

Photo by Erin Mansfield
The office of Pratico's Landscaping and Fence Company on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Route 7 North in Rutland Town, burned to the ground Wednesday last week. The barn was build in 1885, making it 128-years-old.


A pile of charred, snow-covered beams is all that remains of Pratico's Landscaping and Fence Company's primary office on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Route 7 North in Rutland Town.
The company's office building was a 128-year-old barn built in 1885 that burned on the evening of Wednesday, Jan. 22.
Rutland Town Fire Chief Frank Cioffi estimated that the fire started at 5 p.m. Early signs indicate that it was caused by a malfunctioning space heater at the bottom of the building's stairwell. The department immediately called in mutual aid from Pittsford, Proctor, West Rutland, Chittenden, and Rutland City, while Clarendon covered Rutland Town's station.
"We were maxed out," he said, adding that they spent around three-and-a-half hours on the scene.
Business owner Miles "Skip" Pratico, a retired 30-year Rutland City firefighter, was forced to jump from the second floor of the barn when he saw flames coming up the stairwell.
Cioffi and Rutland Town Fire Department Assistant Chief Nick Denardo both estimated the drop was at least 10 feet.
"We're counting our blessings that he's alive," said Connie Cavanaugh, manager of the nursery at Pratico's. "You can always rebuild a barn, but you can't bring back a person."
"We're very thankful for the huge community response. Everybody's just been wonderful," Cavanaugh said. "We'll be back up and running as usual."
Praticos Landscaping and Fence Co. is a landscaping, fencing, and commercial nursery business, according to Cavanaugh.
"It hasn't affected the business at all," she said. She clarified that they do most of their business in the Spring and Summer, and that they can operate from any building.
"We suspect it was [caused by] space heaters," said Rutland Town Fire Department Assistant Chief Nick Denardo, adding that the official cause of the fire has not been determined.
Denardo confirmed that the number of fires happening in the region is unusual, even accounting for it being heating season.
"We get one structure fire like that every three years. We've had three since January first," said Denardo. "Every year everybody should get their heating systems checked, because otherwise this is what happens," he added.
Frank Cioffi, Rutland Town Fire Department Chief was unable to be reached for comment.