On Thursday, February 2 at 10:08 pm the Hartford Fire Department responded to a reported building fire at the Fredrick Johnson Pianos, Inc. located at 344 N. Hartland. The Hartford Dispatch Center received a 911 call from the VA Police Department advising that there was heavy smoke coming from the building and that there was a fire in basement of the building. First arriving fire units arrived and confirmed that there was a well advanced fire in the basement of the building. Crews attempted to gain entry to extinguish the fire, but were quickly driven from the building due to the well involved basement fire. There was also the concern of collapse of the first floor due to the heavy loading of pianos. Elevated master streams were set-up and placed into operation to extinguish the fire. Due to the complexity of the building, extinguishment was difficult.
The Hartford Fire Department was assisted by Lebanon, Hanover, Norwich, Hartland and Windsor Fire Departments. The fire was placed under control at 4:07 am. Crews remained on scene throughout the day extinguishing flare-ups and hot spots. The Hartford Police Department and Highway Department also provided assistance at the scene, along with the Red Cross of VT and NH.
The fire investigation was conducted by the Hartford Fire Department along with members of the Vermont State Police Fire Investigators and the State of Vermont Division of Fire Safety Fire Investigation Unit. The fire was determined to be accidental. The cause was determined to be an overloaded electrical extension cord that was being used to power two portable space heaters. The building was a total loss.