Fire claims West Addison house, family of seven left homeless

ADDISON — Members of the greater Addison community were working this week to help out Val and Tim Birchmore and their five kids, who lost their home on Lake Street in West Addison to a fire last Saturday night.
Around 75 firefighters from five towns rushed to the fire, which started around 7 p.m. Addison Fire Chief Chris Mullis said on Monday that the fire was under investigation, but that it appears to have started with an outside gas grill on the back porch. It spread to the house and quickly took off.
“The house was fully involved when we got there,” he said, noting that the first Addison Volunteer Fire Department trucks arrived within 10 to 15 minutes of the call coming in.
Mullis said the Birchmore parents were away from home at the time, but their five children — who range from 13 to 20 — were all at home. The children all escaped and no one was harmed.
In addition to first responders from Addison, firefighters from Vergennes, Bridport, Ferrisburgh and New Haven came to battle the blaze. But they had no chance of saving the building because the fire spread so quickly. Mullis said firefighters couldn’t get into the house because of the flames overhead.
“The fire got into the rafters,” he said. “The roof totally burned off.”
Neighbors, friends and family have rallied to help the Birchmores. Friends have put them up, and many people have donated clothing and other essentials.
Friends said Tim and Val Birchmore expressed their gratitude for the outpouring of support.
At least three fund-raisers have been planned.
The United Methodists Women’s group at the West Addison Methodist Church is hosting a pot-luck supper on Thursday, July 21, beginning at 6 p.m. at the West Addison Community House. The group will provide drinks and cold cuts, guests are asked to bring cold salads. A free-will donation of any size will be sought.
Separately, family friend Kim Haigis is running a fund-raiser through Wildtree, a company that offers all-natural food through tasting parties and a website. Haigis said she will host a tasting fund-raiser at her Ferrisburgh home this Friday, 5-7:30 p.m., and take orders through her website with all proceeds going to the Birchmores.
To see details on the fund-raiser go online to and click on the “My Events” link, or call Haigis at 802-233-5571.
A “Boogie for the Birchmores” dance and zumba event has been scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 27, 6-9 p.m., at the Vergennes Union High School gym.
Mullis said it has been several years since Addison has seen a major house fire, though he did note that just last Wednesday five area departments were called to a barn fire at Ass-Pirin Acres Farm on Route 17. The last major local fire before that was Feb. 6, 2009, conflagration at the Gosliga farm that claimed a two-story barn and some dairy cows.
“This was the biggest fire we’ve had in a couple years,” Mullis said.

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