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Starksboro family of four loses their home to fire

STARKSBORO — A Starksboro family is coping in the wake of the loss of their home to a fire on Monday, Sept. 19.
Eric Cota, a longtime employee of the Bristol Road Department and a volunteer firefighter, his wife Catina and their two children, Matthew and Jordyn, were not injured in the fire, but the family lost their two dogs, Rascal and Sheba, to the blaze.
Starksboro Fire Chief Tom Estey received a call at 3:15 p.m. on Monday that the north Starksboro residence at 274 Varney Hill Road was aflame. The Starksboro Volunteer Fire Department, along with Monkton and Hinesburg fire departments, doused the flames, but the house was ruined.
“The fire itself was confined to three or four rooms, but the rest of the house sustained a lot of high heat and smoke damage, so everything was pretty much a total loss,” said Estey. “It was hot enough that all the TVs and computers melted even though there wasn’t any actual flame in the room.”
Estey said the clothes dryer caused the fire.
“We’re not sure if it was electrical or caused by lint, but it was very obvious that it was in the area of the dryer,” said Estey.
Eric Cota said his wife had started the dryer and then gone to Robinson Elementary School to pick up their children. When she returned she discovered the fire and called 911. Cota himself was mowing a lawn in the Starksboro village at the time. He is a volunteer fireman himself, but he said he didn’t hear the tone calling him to the fire because the mower was so loud.
On Friday afternoon, he said that the kids were doing alright now that they’ve got back into their routine. The family was staying at Cota’s parents’ house in Starksboro for now and many people had generously donate as much clothing as they needed.
For those who have bigger things to donate, like home furnishings, Cota asked that they hold onto them for now since he has no place to store them.
“I don’t have a storage shed or anything,” he said.
Cota was moved by the generosity bestowed on him and his family.
“I just want to thank everyone beyond words, what everybody has done. The firefighters, the people who gave us things, the people who are going to give us things,” he said. “I want to thank everybody but I just don’t have the words to say how much we appreciate it. Really.”
He said the family can’t make any plans until he finds out what their insurance will cover. On Friday he said the insurance adjusters hadn’t be able to come do an assessment yet because they have been backlogged visiting properties damage or destroyed by the recent flooding.
“It’s been one catastrophe after another,” Cota said. “I can’t complain about them taking time to get here, all of those other people have lost their houses, too.”
The town of Bristol, for which Cota has worked since April 1990, is collecting cash, check and gift card donations on the family’s behalf. If any concerned residents have questions about this issue or would like to help the Cota family, they can call the Bristol offices at 453-2410.
“You think you have a lot of insurance, but it’s never enough,” said Estey. “I think right now financial support (for the family) would be appropriate.”
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected].

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