Fire investigators say a discarded cigarette was the cause of a fire that raged through a West Burke neighborhood Sunday afternoon.
According to a release from the investigators, including Assistant State Fire Marshal Tim Angell of the Division of Fire Safety, Det. Senior Sgt. Tom Williams and Det. Sgt. Steve Otis, the fire was started when a cigarette was carelessly extinguished near piles of dried leaves and other combustibles near a garage at 237 Depot Street.
The fire, which started just after 12:30 Sunday, had spread to a detached garage and a house by the time the first firefighters arrived on scene, wrote the investigators. During the early fire fighting efforts a 250 pound propane tank exploded “endangering all fire personnel and shooting embers a distance from the property.”
The explosion resulted in an unoccupied residence across the street to catch fire as well as several brush fires.
During firefighting efforts over 50 firefighters from West Burke, East Burke, Lyndonville, Sutton, Newark, Concord, St. Johnsbury, Danville and Sheffield/Wheelock fire departments were on scene.
The investigators reported that the owner of the property where the fire started is Rachel and Terrance Howland and Monique Prive was the tenant. It was a visitor to the property that discarded the cigarette, the investigators reported. The fire is classified as accidental.
There were two homes and a garage destroyed by the fire as well as another two properties that sustained heat damage from the fire as well as numerous open grass/brush fires in the area. No injuries other than a foot injury were reported and that was sustained by an occupant of one of the properties who was exiting the house due to the reported fire, say investigators.
West Burke Fire Chief Tom Villeneuve said the work of all the fire departments helped save the other houses in the neighborhood. Villeneuve said there was a woman, Prive, and her daughters living in the house, all of whom were safe and accounted for, but the family did lose some pets.