According to Wardsboro Fire Chief Chris Liller the house and all of the family’s possessions were destroyed in the blaze, despite the department’s quick response. “We took the call for a building fire on Dump Road at about 3:32 am, and we were out there within minutes,” Liller said. “We found it fully involved when we got there.”
Before firefighters could get to the scene, however, a loud boom was heard throughout the area as a propane cylinder exploded. Thankfully, the family had already left the house and were driving away when the explosion occurred.
The good news, Liller said, is that Eugene Bills, June Mylott, and their family were able to get out of the house without any injuries. “Sadly, they lost everything,” Liller said. “But everyone got out, that’s the best part of the story.”
In a tragic coincidence, Thursday’s fire came exactly eight years after another fire at the same location destroyed the family’s house. Liller remembers the 2005 fire, although not the cause. This time, household members told Liller they believe the fire was related to their woodstove or chimney.
The fire was so intense by the time firefighters arrived at the scene, Liller says no interior attack was made, and firefighters concentrated their fire suppression efforts on the outside of the building. One of the challenges for firefighters was getting water to the scene, which was located at the end of Dump Road on a long, steep drive. Liller says firefighters put down 3,000 feet of hose to reach the river, and pumper trucks had to be stationed along the steep route to get the water up the hill. “Jamaica, Dover, and Wilmington made that work,” Liller noted.
Another challenge was the low temperatures Thursday morning. “We had some frozen valves on one of the supply trucks, but everyone worked through it. We had great mutual aid support.” In addition to those listed above, East Dover and Townshend assisted at the scene, and Stratton provided cover at the Wardsboro station.
By 8 am, firefighters had extinguished the flames, and were leaving the scene.
The family was left with little more than the clothes on their backs and the vehicles they used to escape with. Liller says Wardsboro is already rallying around the family. “They’ve been offered a place to stay until they can get back on their feet. Someone has called the Red Cross, and they sent someone out to help them. Like all of the communities around here, people pull together.”
Wardsboro resident Betty Parsons says donations of clothing and household items are already being collected. Over the weekend fundraising began, and a bake sale is planned for this weekend. On December 6, at 6 pm, at Wardsboro Town Hall, the Abby Group (which provides food service at Wardsboro School) is co-hosting a benefit dinner with the Yoked Parish churches. Anyone who would like to make a donation can contact Parsons for more information at (802) 896-6202.