Arrests made in house fire

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Jacksonville >> A 32-year-old Whitingham man and a 16-year-old juvenile have been arrested and cited with burglary following an investigation into a house fire on Route 112 early Thursday morning.

According to a press release from the Vermont State Police, Dustin Bilby and the juvenile were taken into custody. Bilby is being lodged at Southern State Correctional Facility. In addition to the arrests, items that were stolen from the home, including an urn containing the ashes of a deceased family member, were retrieved and returned to the owner, Robert Cutler.

Damages are estimated to be in excess of $150,000 and according to the press release, the fire was deliberately set.

Detectives from the State Police Fire Investigation Unit and Fire Marshals from the Division of fire Safety determined that the home had been burglarized, and that the subsequent fire was "of an incendiary nature."

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone who may have information regarding the fire or events surrounding are encouraged to contact Detective Sgt. Steve Otis at the Vermont State Police at 802-722- 4600.

"We need the power of Facebook this morning," Vicki Pachalis posted on Facebook Friday morning, who is the sister of Cutler, who home caught fire. "We have learned that fire at my brother's home ... was no accident, it was deliberately set inside the home."

In her Facebook post, Pachalis said someone had stolen an urn containing the ashes of Cutler's deceased wife.

"We are asking for help hoping for the safe return of her urn," said Pachalis in her Facebook post Friday. "There is a $1,000 reward no questions asked. Please help us get the word out. Losing her once was hard enough but to have her taken away twice is incomprehensible."

Whitingham received the call from Fire Mutual Aid at just past 2 a.m. on Thursday. The fire was contained within a couple of hours, but firefighters stood on the scene until sun came up, making sure the blaze did not return.

The Whitingham Fire Department was assisted by firefighters from Halifax, Wilmington and Readsboro, and Colrain, Mass. Deerfield Valley Ambulance also assisted on scene and firefighters from Marlboro provided coverage while the fire was being fought.

Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext 275


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