Police still investigating Guilford fire
GUILFORD — State fire investigators haven't determined the cause of a fire that led the owners of a home built to resemble a farm silo to jump to safety and require hospital care.
"All info pertaining to this fire and how it may have started is being investigated and reviewed," Vermont State Police Det. Sgt. Steven Otis said in an email response to the Reformer after a news release about the incident was issued Tuesday afternoon.
State Police said at 9:23 a.m. Monday, a fire was reported in the occupied home at 219 Hamilton Road in Guilford. The property, which had a sign in the front saying Kindred Folk Farm, hosted "a large weekend get together with friends and family who stayed in tents and vehicles," according to the news release.
State Police said the Guilford Fire Department responded immediately to find the entire building in flames and learned that Allison and Michael Postmus, property owners, were burned and injured from jumping from the fourth-floor window. They were placed in a personal vehicle and brought to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, then airlifted to Massachusetts General Hospital due to their injuries.
The Vermont Department of Public Safety Fire and Explosion Unit was asked to conduct an origin and cause investigation by Guilford Fire Chief Jared Bristol. On Tuesday, the group classified the fire as "undetermined" at this time.
Witnesses at the scene told the Reformer the fire was intentionally set by a man having a psychotic break. Otis said the fire is still under investigation.
The news release included information about the Vermont Arson Tip Award Program, which offers an award of up to $5,000 for any information that will lead to the arrest of anyone involved in the crime of arson. The hotline number is 1-800-322-7766 and Otis can be reached at the Westminster Barracks at 802-722-4600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Police said those with additional information or who witnessed events prior to the fire also are encouraged to reach out.
A GoFundMe account, gf.me/u/yw9r8u, was created to raise funds for Allison. On Monday, "my mother's home burned to the ground," Casey Hagedorn wrote on the webpage.
"She lost everything, including her two loved dogs, Piper and Koko, and her cat Timber," Hagedorn wrote, but later heard Timber was seen walking on the property. "She was forced to jump from a four-story balcony of her Silo Home, to be caught by two persons on the ground."
Hagedorn said she was able to find and bring her mother's kitten Trey to an animal hospital to be treated for burns on his ears, fur, whiskers and paw pads. Via GoFundMe, she asked friends and family for financial support to help in "this horrendous event."
As of 2:56 p.m. Tuesday, $4,724 had been raised toward the goal of getting $450,000. Ninety people had donated.
"Lots of love and healing vibes to a longtime friend who we love very much on her long road to healing," wrote one donor on the webpage.
Hagedorn told the Reformer she set up the webpage at about 8:30 p.m. Monday and is also accepting donations through her Venmo account @caseybean.
"I'm so beyond grateful and overwhelmed by the support," she said. "It's super, super helpful."
Hagedorn estimated donations at the time of the interview Tuesday afternoon covered the cat's vet bills and said all the other funds can go directly to her mother. She believes her mom has health insurance but she's unsure about home or fire insurance.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Hagedorn anticipated her mother would be kept on a ventilator for the next 24 hours. Depending on how her mother's lungs look and skin grafting goes, Hagedorn said she might be able to see her in the next 36 hours.
"She's pretty sedated for pain," Hagedorn said. "She's a really strong woman. She's my idol. I love her to death. It's just another chapter in her life. She'll make it out OK."
Unsure about Michael's status, Hagedorn said his injuries sounded more severe.
Hagedorn wasn't on the property at the time of the incident and wasn't there for the investigation. She said she believes the fire was intentionally set but doesn't know all the details behind the incident.
About 12 hours after firefighters were called to the scene Monday, several vehicles on the property had been broken into, states a separate State Police news release issued earlier Tuesday.
State Police said multiple victims at the "community camp" were involved — vehicles that were locked had shattered windows from forced entry and those that were unlocked had doors, trunks and hoods left open.
"A suspicious vehicle, possibly a red Ford Transit Connect bearing partial Vermont registration 450, driven by a male party in his early 20s was seen leaving the road of the scene, as the victims approached," State Police said.
Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to call Trooper Isabella Corrao at the Westminster State Police Barracks at 802-722-4600.
Reach staff writer Chris Mays at email@example.com and at @CMaysBR on Twitter.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.