Bristol home destroyed in fire

BRISTOL — A blaze of as-yet unknown origin destroyed an A-frame house at 239 Birch Ledge in Bristol — just off of Route 116 — during the evening of Wednesday, Oct 12. Bristol Fire Department officials confirmed that no one was injured in the blaze and surrounding homes remained untouched, though the structure belonging to John and Tonya Willard was labeled a complete loss.
According to Bristol Lister Claire Scribner, the house had been vacant for some time.
“It was (previously the Willard’s) primary residence, but a while ago they moved to Milton and, as far as I know, nobody has been living there since.”  The Independent was unable to reach the Willards by press time.
Bristol firefighters were in the middle of drills when alerted to the fire at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
“As we headed north on Route 116, we could see the glow in the sky,” recalled Bristol Fire Department Assistant Chief Brett LaRose. “The tree tops 100 feet in the air were burning.”
The 25 Bristol firefighters called for backup from the New Haven, Middlebury and Monkton departments. LaRose said Middlebury and Monkton each brought water in 2,000-gallon tankers and New Haven was asked to bring everything it had.
“We went into what is called a defensive attack — nobody entered the structure,” said LaRose. “It was too involved and too unsafe to enter. The biggest hurdle we had there was water supply. Our closest water supply was at the (Stoplight) Bridge, which is approximately 2 miles away.”
To fight the fire, the tankers poured huge quantities of water into a nearby holding tank. But even with the combined capacity of Middlebury and Monkton’s tankers and Bristol’s 3,000-gallon tanker, the crew still ran out of water.
“When you live in a rural area, you can’t have enough water,” said LaRose.
After 30 minutes on the scene, firefighters had the blaze under control. Remaining hot spots were extinguished by 1:10 a.m.
The cause of the fire remains unknown.
“It was a loss before we were even notified,” said LaRose. “That’s why it’s under (Vermont State Police) investigation.”
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected].

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