A piece of this rural town's history was destroyed early Saturday when the Charlton Tavern burnt to the ground.
The fire that ignited at the tavern, at 745 Charlton Road, spread to the house at 743 Charlton Road, demolishing it as well.
Charlton Fire Chief Dean DeCapria said at the scene that the fire started in the tavern's kitchen area in the back of the building and appears to have been an accidental electrical fire. The residents of 743 Charlton Road, on the corner of Stage Road, escaped their home before it went up in flames.
Both wooden buildings were engulfed by the time fire crews reached the scene at 4:45 a.m., and they were unable to save either building, DeCapria said. Firefighters worked for two hours to knock down the inferno, which leveled the tavern, gutted the house and stripped a tall pine near the house bare of its needles and branches.
Three firefighters suffered minor injuries when they fell on ice that formed on the road from the gushing hoses, DeCapria said.
"It was so bad before we got salt on it," he said.
The residents, David and Lynda Green, are being assisted by the American Red Cross, DeCapria said.
DeCapria estimated both buildings at about 300 years old.