Flory’s burns in suspicious’ fire
By Erin Mansfield
Correspondent | March 10,2014
Anthony Edwards / Staff Photo
Firefighters from multiple area departments work on extinguishing a structure fire at Flory's Plaza in Center Rutland on Sunday.
As the long-abandoned Flory’s Motel went up in flames Sunday night, fire officials said they planned to request an official investigation from the Vermont State Police.
The fire broke out around 4:30 p.m. and by 5:10 p.m. firefighters had closed off a half-mile stretch of Route 4A in Center Rutland as mutual aid came in from at least 10 other departments in the region.
Dozens of pedestrians stood across the street to watch the landmark Flory’s property burn.
“State dispatch called and said there was smoke coming from the building,” Rutland Town Fire Chief Frank Cioffi said. He immediately called in assistance from around Rutland County and ordered that no firefighter enter the building out of concern for their safety.
The fire was instead fought by firefighters at the top of two ladders with hoses attached to them, with one other firefighter holding the nozzle of a hose and attempting to soak the blaze from the front.
At 5:30 p.m. firefighters believed they had contained the blaze to the right-hand side of the building, but the smoke soon spread across the entire structure and bright flames could be seen through windows on either side.
An excavator arrived an hour later and began tearing down the left-hand side of the structure to keep the ongoing fire from spreading to the neighbor’s house.
“We knew this was going to happen eventually,” Cioffi said. “We’re gonna have to knock down a lot of it to get the fire out.”
The building is part of a stretch of land on Business Route 4 that was abandoned decades ago, and neighbors believe homeless people were the most recent occupants.
“This is all owned by the Florys,” said Heather Ruelke, 44, of Center Rutland. She lives on nearby Simons Avenue and walked to the scene after hearing sirens and looking out her window to see smoke rising up over the trees.
“They should have taken it down years ago,” Ruelke said. “We’ve been worrying that something like this would happen.”
“The last I heard it was tied up in the family estate,” said Dan Cross, 48, of Rutland City. “The state’s been after them I don’t know how many times to clean the place up.”
“If this is arson, this person did the community a big favor,” said Nick Santoro, 65, of Rutland City.
On the scene were firefighters from Rutland Town, Clarendon, West Rutland, Rutland City, Proctor, Pittsford, Chittenden, Wallingford, Ira, Shrewsbury and Castleton. Brandon and Pittsford covered some of the helping towns’ stations, and at least a dozen tankers total among the departments were brought on to keep water on the scene.
An ambulance from Regional Ambulance Service was also on the scene, as was a truck from the American Red Cross.
Cioffi was unsure whether any people were in the building when the fire started and said they would be fighting the fire all night. It was less than 30 degrees outside.