On Wednesday, Nov. 18 at approximately 10:30 p.m. Trinidad Fire Department with assistance from Trinidad Ambulance District and Trinidad Police Department responded to an apartment fire above Wilklow & Associates, CPA, PC located in the 200 block of North Commercial Street.
Francesca Villani, a local real estate associate with Town and Country Estates Realty, Inc. is also the owner of the several buildings that line that portion of North Commercial Street. Her own businesses, Tutti Scoops and Francesca’s Unique Gifts are housed in the historic complex.
The only tenant in the building, Eric Monson, made it out safely but the apartment, Monson said, was likely a “total loss.”
“I had come home earlier in the night and started some oil on the stove in a Dutch oven,” said Monson who is the editor of The Chronicle-News recalling the evening’s events. “At some point within an hour to an hour and a half, I had fallen asleep on the couch and when I woke up there was already fire breaking over the kitchen entryway.”
Monson said he tried to put it out, at one point becoming trapped in the kitchen before managing to get a clear escape.
“The fire and smoke were raging too much for me,” said Monson. “After I got out of the kitchen I looked for my cat but couldn’t find him, then finally grabbed my cell phone, ran out the door and got ahold of 911 as the alarms were beginning to go off.”
As he fled the building, fire had already started breaking through a main window on the upper floor where the apartment was located. Following the Fire Department’s arrival, Fire Chief Tim Howard said it took eight firefighters three hours to extinguish the quickly spreading blaze.
“It had gotten up into the spaces between the several different roofs and ceilings it had in it,” said Chief Howard. “It was a very hot fire. Part of one of the ceilings had burned through and came down.”
The first floor did suffer some water damage but no significant fire damage.
Receiving minor burns to hands and feet and a few abrasions on his legs after attempting to extinguish the fire before escaping, Monson refused medical service from Trinidad Ambulance District.
“Other than that I’m fine,” said Monson.
Monson was the only tenant in the building along with his cat. As of print, the cat has not yet been found.
At this time, it has not been disclosed the amount of damage that occurred to the business offices of DigiCare Hearing Solutions, Wilklow & Associates, CPA PC, Francesca’s Unique Gifts and Tutti Scoops on the ground floor under the apartment unit.
In a telephone conversation with The Chronicle-News on Thursday morning, Villani said that she is greatly relieved that Eric made it out of the apartment safely and indicated that she has every intention of re-building what the fire destroyed. “It’s where I opened Franchesca’s shop in 2012. Those buildings are a historical part of the fabric that is Trinidad. They are very dear to me — and I will see to it that they will continue to shine into the future.”
Villani went on to say how much she appreciates with way the Trinidad Fire Department first reponders and the Trinidad Police Department officers got to the scene and in such a short time. We all have so much to be grateful for, especially their everyday efforts to support our community and keep it safe.