Fire destroys home of Vergennes boy on day of his graduation

VERGENNES — A fire on the afternoon of Friday, June 12, destroyed the Meigs Road home of a family of four, including a Vergennes Union High School senior who graduated hours later.
Vergennes Deputy Fire Chief Matt Fraley said city firefighters were alerted just before 1 p.m., arrived on the scene minutes later with three trucks, and discovered the single-story manufactured home was already beyond saving.
“It was pretty much fully involved when we got there,” Fraley said.
Firefighters, including members of the Ferrisburgh, New Haven and Charlotte departments, went to work quickly.
“We had the fire under control within five to eight minutes,” Fraley said, adding, “I had two crack teams do the initial attack and they did a heck of a job.”
Vergennes police also helped at the fire, blocking off the dead-end road to traffic to allow firefighters to safely do their job.
Firefighters left the scene at about 4:30 p.m., except for Fraley, who walked the property with investigators, who ruled the fire was not suspicious, but as of earlier this week had not released their final ruling on the cause of the blaze.
Unfortunately, he said, the insurance company that also arrived promptly that afternoon did not have much good news for the family of Harold and Helena “Eileen” Leach.
“Pretty much the insurance company was writing everything off,” Fraley said.
Fortunately, the employee of the nearby Country Home Products plant who called the fire in did the family of four an important favor, rescuing their puppy before firefighters arrived.
“He was kind enough to get the dog out,” Fraley said, although a neighbor said one of the family’s two cats did not survive.
The family, including daughter Megan, a college freshman, and son Christopher, who received his VUHS diploma at about 8 p.m. that evening, also luckily had friends to stay with, Fraley said.
The Leaches received support at the VUHS graduation ceremony from student and administration speakers.
Donations were also arriving from the community, including what Fraley said was an organized effort from the Leaches’ United Technologies Corp. co-workers.
“Everybody’s just been giving them things, gift cards and stuff,” he said. 

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