GUILFORD -- As bad as it looked from the outside, Tuesday night -- with flames shooting from the roof, one end of the house to the other -- a local homeowner and his girlfriend managed to escape a fire at their home without injury.
A third person who also lives at the house was not at home at the time of the fire.
"(Firefighters) saved a bunch of stuff on the second floor," said Guilford Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jared Bristol, talking about how his crew was able to stop the fire on that floor.
The department was called at 4:30 p.m. for a structure fire at 1250 Weatherhead Hollow Road. The owner, Daniel Kornguth, was at home with his girlfriend when the fire started.
"At this point, it seems the house is destroyed," said Kornguth.
The house, which was built in 1791, had been the object of serious renovations by Kornguth, said Bristol, who said it appears the fire started in the chimney.
"I'm told that they just started their stoves as they were going to get some snow," said Bristol.
Upon arrival of the first firefighters, a second alarm was struck, bringing in neighboring departments, including Vernon, Putney, Dummerston and Brattleboro. Hinsdale (N.H.) Fire Department covered the Guilford station, which was back in service by 10 p.m.
Currently, the couple is staying with friends.
"No one was injured. All three people who live in it were OK," Kornguth said. "Also, my thanks to all the incredible people who lent us their support and their thoughts."
Kornguth also wanted to apologize if any recent calls or messages weren't being returned.
"There's so much to take on at this time," he added.
On Wednesday morning, firefighters returned to the scene after receiving a call from a concerned Vermont State Trooper. On his way home from duty, he saw some smoke and wanted to make sure the fire was under control, which it was.
Earlier this week, the Brattleboro Fire Department shared safety tips related to the recent weather. With snow storms and rain in the forecast, people are encouraged to test their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, have at least a three foot safe zone around all heating equipment and turn heaters off when leaving the room.
"Chimneys should be cleaned regularly and inspected by a certified chimney sweep," the Brattleboro Fire Department stated. "Never discard ashes from a wood or pellet stove inside or near the home. Place them in a metal container outside and well away from the house."
Having an escape plan that the entire family is aware of is important as well as making sure snow is shoveled from doorways and near ventilation.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.