When Granite Hall Store caught fire Oct. 3, the observation and quick thinking of a neighbor saved the landmark from destruction.
Just before , Elaine Davenport, a neighbor just driving by, stopped to inquire if Granite Hall Store owner Sarah Herndon had lit a fire in her woodstove. Herndon didn’t light a fire that day. In fact, the upstairs office was on fire, and the smoke
“Elaine was the key in getting the fire discovered,” Herndon said. “If she hadn’t been driving by and stopped in, I wouldn’t have known until much later when the smoke came downstairs.”
As soon as the fire was discovered, a customer in the store, Dennis Polter of
Herndon believes an old rheostat light fixture started the fire. Polter relayed information on the fire downstairs to Herndon, while she was on the phone with the authorities. Then he grabbed a nearby fire extinguisher and fought the fire back before fire fighters arrived.
The old building was dry as a tinderbox, according to Herndon. She was concerned the historical building would be lost. A group of 10 or 15 local people gathered on the steps of the Antiques store next door to watch the firefighters work.
“This building is from the 1870s, it has been a dance hall, a silent movie theatre, and now a store for many years,” Herndon said. “People have so many fond memories of this place.”
Herndon was impressed by the local firefighters response times. She recalled Assistant Bristol Fire Chief Gil Jaeger arrived at the building within five minutes of her 911 call.
“Everyone was amazing,” Herndon said. “We have the best fire department and first responders.”
He explained they cut a vent hole in the roof to drive the smoke, heat and fire out and away from the building and inventory. “The timing was great and the response was tremendous,” Pendleton said. “We were able to save the building and inventory.”
There were no local hydrants for firefighters to draw water from to fight the fire. Two dump tanks were set up in front of and behind the building to store water from pump trucks, according to Pendleton.
“No injuries were reported from the incident,” Pendleton said. “Firefighters were able to fully resolve the fire within a half hour to an hour.”