Fire leaves six homeless


PUTNEY -- Monday afternoon Putney Fire Chief Tom Goddard was still on the site of fire that destroyed a home on Town Line Road Sunday.

Goddard was walking around the smoldering site while he waited for an excavator to begin removing the rubble.

No one was injured in the afternoon fire which left the family of six without a home, 10 days before Christmas and during one of the coldest nights of the year.

"It's sad," Goddard said. "We don't like to see it at any time, but certainly around the holidays, it's no good."

The first call came in to the Putney Fire Department at 12:38 p.m. Sunday.

Goddard said two people were home at the time and they called the fire department after discovering the flames in the home.

Goddard said the Vermont State Police were receiving numerous calls about the fire which eventually sent up thick plumes of smoke that were visible from Interstate 91 and across the Connecticut River in New Hampshire.

The Putney Fire Department arrived around 12:50 to find the fire fully involved.

When firefighters arrived it was hard to reach the home at first, Goddard said, because the driveway had not yet been plowed.

The Putney department was assisted by firefighters from Westminster, Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford, Bellows Falls, Walpole, N.H. and the Chesterfield, N.H., Fire Department covered the Putney station.

Goddard said the fire is not suspicious and will not be investigated by the State Police Fire Investigation team.

He said it appears as though the fire started in a closet and did not originate in a heating unit or wood stove.

Goddard said firefighters were able to beat down the fire and protect the immediate area, but they could not enter the structure because it was collapsing when they arrived.

On Monday, a full 24 hours after the first call came in to the station, Goddard was still on site, waiting for an excavator to begin hauling the rubble away.

"The way the building collapsed it was unsafe for us to get into it to pull it apart," Goddard said.

Putney Family Services Executive Director Pat Field said the family has three boys aged 3, 9 and 12 and a 16-year-old girl.

The service organization is collecting Christmas gifts for the family at its office at 54 Kimball Hill Road.

Monetary donations can also be sent to Putney Family Services, P.O. Box 463, Putney, Vt. 05346.

"Money is the best way to help the family. We will see that the family receives all donations," said Field. "After speaking to the people, this is the best way to help as there is no place for them to keep anything at the hotel."

The American Red Cross is putting the family up in a motel for a few days though Field said she does not know where the family will turn next.

She said the structure was not insured,

Field said the mother of the house was out doing laundry so the family has a basket of clean laundry, but very little else.

"They lost everything. There is nothing left," Field said. "There were two of them in the house when the fire started. They called the fire department and got out, but all they could do was stand there and watch it burn."

For more information and to help support the family call Putney Family Services at 802-387-2120.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at; or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.


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