Local fire departments respond to house fire, explosion


Harmony Birch, hbirch@reformer.com

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 10:15 a.m. on Saturday to include new information.

According to the Vermont State Police, the remains of two people were found in the burned log cabin at 183 Shirley Circle in Townshend.

The bodies were sent to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for identification.

The cause of the fire, which was called in at just before 10 a.m. On Friday, is still under investigation.

TOWNSHEND — On a quiet street in Townshend, one worried neighbor was quick to call police when he heard an explosion.

Brian Schmidt, Assistant Fire Chief for Townshend, along with firefighters from at least nine other fire departments, rushed to the scene after receiving the call.

Firefighters battled flames at 183 Shirley Circle for hours. The call was made at about 9:50 a.m. and by noon firefighters were still at work stomping out flare-ups. Vermont State Police, Fish and Wildlife, the Dead River Company and Rescue Inc. were also on the scene.

Schmidt said he wasn't sure who owned the house. The Vermont State Police, he said, are in the process of investigating the owners and talking to neighbors. Firefighters didn't find anyone in the house, and representatives from Rescue Inc. said no one was injured. State fire investigators were requested to help determine the cause. According to Schmidt, there are cameras on the property that could help the investigators figure out what caused the fire, which he said was more difficult to put out than other fires the Townshend Fire Department has responded to in the past.

"The location, it's very rural and getting water is kind of tough," he said.

A man who lives nearby — who asked that his name be withheld — said he wasn't surprised when he heard about the fire.

"We've been here since April," he said. Cars with license plates from New York and Massachusetts are constantly stopping at the house, "at all hours of the night," he said.

The other night, he said, he got fed up. There were two cars sitting outside his house with their headlights on. He confronted them. "What are you doing," he said. "You could tell that they were under the influence of something."

He said that one of the men claimed to be the owner of 163 Shirley Circle. The man also said that he saw Scott Brooks Towing recovering two bronze lions that were stolen from The Vermont Building in September from 163 Shirley Circle. It was then that he knew for sure, he said, that the house was trouble. The Brattleboro Police Department confirmed that the lions had been recovered from Shirley Circle in Townshend.

"I just hope those people are never going to be up there again,"said the man. "I have two kids that I care about."

According to a press release from Captain JP Sinclair, the Commander of the Vermont State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation members of Vermont State Police to include the Fire Investigation unit and Division of Fire Safety responded to the scene. The press release stated the residence was heavily damaged and was supposed to be unoccupied. "At this time, safety efforts are underway to allow investigators to enter the scene to ascertain if anyone was inside and to begin the origin and cause investigation," stated the press release.

 Harmony Birch can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext.153. Or you can follow her @birchharmony.


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