Fire destroys home of Naylor and Breen

 

BRANDON — A fire destroyed the headquarters of a well-respected local building company after firefighters were called to the business twice on Sunday.

Firefighters first responded to Naylor and Breen Builders on Route 7 South in Brandon at about 2 p.m. Sunday after getting reports of smoke and flames. Brandon Fire Chief Bob Kilpeck said that fire began in the paint finishing room of the building, which housed offices in front and a cabinetry shop in the rear.

That fire damaged only one section of the building on the north side. After extinguishing the blaze, Kilpeck said his department conducted a thorough check of the building with a thermal imaging camera looking for hot spots and found none. He said they checked the attic of the warehouse-type rear section in particular because it contained blown-in insulation that can hold smoldering embers.

“We checked the whole interior, walls, ceilings, and didn’t see anything,” Kilpeck said. “The folks at Naylor and Breen were boarding up the windows and everything was secure.”

In fact, Kilpeck said he went back to Naylor and Breen at about 5 p.m. to check on the building and make sure there were no flare-ups and found the building secure.

Six hours later, everything changed.

A passerby called 9-1-1 at 11 p.m. Sunday to report flames and smoke at Naylor and Breen. Firefighters from seven departments responded and fought the blaze until 4 a.m. But the fire had been burning in the attic undetected for too long, and the building was totally destroyed.

“It got into the attic space,” Kilpeck said. “That blown–in insulation is ground up newspaper. It’s treated, but you get a spark or an ember in there and you don’t see it. It’ll just burn away and you won’t see it until it catches.”

The fire chief also said that the metal roof on the building kept the fire from venting out.

“A metal roof keeps the fire all inside,” he said. “The fire can’t vent itself, so it spreads horizontally.”

Kilpeck estimated about 70 firefighters were on the scene fighting the blaze. They came from the Brandon, Pittsford, Rutland City, Rutland Town, Proctor, Chittenden, and Salisbury fire departments. The Middlebury Fire Department came and covered the Brandon station during the fire.

Before the hoses were turned on the fully engulfed building, firefighters formed an assembly-line and removed the company’s computers and filing cabinets, saving valuable business records. One firefighter said the blaze was so hot from above that his helmet was ruined.

Kilpeck said the 10,000-gallon water tank at Otter Valley Union High School was drained fighting the fires, then  two hydrants in Brandon were tapped.

Kilpeck said there were Naylor and Breen employees working in the paint/finishing room earlier in the day on Sunday, but not at the time of either fire. There were no injuries. Kilpeck said the fire is not considered suspicious, although an exact cause has yet to be determined.

Rob Naylor, principal owner of Naylor and Breen, could not be reached for comment. He and partner Peter Breen in 1978 stared the company, which designs and constructs all types of building projects, from convenience stores to condominium complexes. The company does a lot of local building and often donates time and materials to worthy projects in the Brandon area.

Early Monday morning, many of Naylor and Breen’s 60 employees drove up to the still-smoldering remnants of the building to see the destruction for themselves. Bob Kelly, Naylor’s brother-in-law, occasionally works for the company. He said Naylor would certainly rebuild.

“He’s just very glad that nobody was hurt and everybody got out safely,” Kelly said. “Rob will build it back up and it’ll be stronger that ever.”


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Addison County Independent

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Middlebury, VT 05753

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