WOODFORD, Vt. (AP) - Fire heavily damaged a business landmark
that housed a general store, motel and snowmobile touring center.
The Woodford Mall, a small rustic complex on Vermont Route 9
east of Bennington, erupted in flames about 5:15 p.m. Thursday.
The owner, Adam "Chub" Adamski of Wilmington, said he'd closed
the store about an hour earlier, and had sat on the motel porch
with some workmen who'd been painting there.
"We sat there for an hour. I didn't notice anything wrong,"
Adamski said.
Adamski then headed east toward home. But as he passed the Red
Mill Pond next to the store, he noticed a haze of smoke over the
water, he said.
By the time he turned around and drove back to a neighbor's
house, he saw flames shooting out of the mall. The neighbors had
already reported the fire, he said.
"I can't even imagine how fast that fire moved. It wasn't two
minutes," Adamski said, visibly shaken.
The Bennington Rural Fire Department arrived about 15 minutes
later, and started drawing water from the adjacent pond to fight
the blaze. The bulk of the fire was knocked down in five or 10
minutes, but stubborn flames kept re-igniting the roof on the west
wing of the store.
The two-story office building in the rear of the complex
appeared to suffer the most severe damage, as did the store and one
end of the motel. Fire did not spread to most of the motel. A
garage containing snowmobiles also did not burn.
Adamski told Larry McLeod of the Bennington Rural Fire
Department that the property was insured, but that he wasn't sure
if it would cover all the damage, McLeod said.
A state police fire investigator was expected to be called in to
determine the cause of the fire, McLeod said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)