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Thursday night fire destroys Lincoln home; no one injured

LINCOLN — A fire, believed to have been started accidentally by faulty electrical wiring, destroyed a Lincoln house on the Ripton Road Thursday night. Around 70 firefighters from Lincoln, Bristol, Ripton, Starksboro and New Haven responded to the blaze, in which no one was hurt.
“When we got there the structure was completely engulfed in flames, and there was nobody in it,” said Lincoln Fire Chief Dan Ober.
A neighbor spotted the fire, ran up to the house to make sure no one was inside, and then returned home and called the fire department, Ober said. The Lincoln Volunteer Fire Company responded immediately, arriving on the scene within 17 minutes. Still, by the time the fire department could reach the location, it was a “fully involved structure fire,” according to Ober.
He described the home at 3625 Ripton Road as “about as far as you can get” from the Lincoln fire station, a distance of about seven or eight miles.
Lincoln reinforced its trucks and 20 firefighters at the scene by calling for assistance from Bristol, Ripton, New Haven and Starksboro. Bristol and Ripton arrived with a full response of all trucks and a full complement of firefighters — about 23 firefighters from Bristol and about 20 from Ripton. New Haven and Starksboro each dispatched water tankers and about five firefighters.
The property belongs to Lincoln resident David Di Pentima, who, according to Ober, had been mostly living elsewhere while renovating his house. Ober said that Di Pentima reported being “just about done” with renovations, when the fire destroyed the building. Di Pentima, who now is staying with a friend nearby, apparently did not have many belongings stored in the house at the time because of the ongoing renovations.
Ober described the fire as “a very big challenge for firefighters.
“Had that same fire been right here in downtown Lincoln, we probably could have saved most of the house,” he said.
As it was, the property was far from the fire station, reachable only on a dirt road, and the house itself was at the end of a long, steep drive. Ober said the steepness of the drive was such that after the Lincoln fire engine used its entire 1,000 gallons of water and then all the water in the Bristol engine, firefighters had to lay out about 1,500 feet of supply line to draw water from tankers at the bottom of the long driveway.
“It was definitely a classic example of rural firefighting in Vermont,” Ober said.
No pets or people were in the house at the time of the fire, so there were no deaths or injuries.
Firefighters fought the blaze for two hours and had it under control by 9 p.m., Ober said. They remained on the scene until midnight, as the fire was still smoldering, adding more water and making sure that “every last bit of the fire was out so it wouldn’t rekindle.”
Ober said that fire inspectors were on the scene Thursday night and Friday morning to further analyze the cause of the blaze. On Friday afternoon Ober said evidence suggests the fire was accidental since it started because of electrical issues.
“He was probably running a fan or a light or something that was drawing on some weak wiring that might have been chewed by a mouse or something and that just creates a certain amount of heat,” Ober said. “And if there’s enough heat there, it could catch the wallboard; or the outlet could get hot enough that if there’s a curtain leaning against it it can start there. Then whatever he had for combustibles in there could get going. And then the next thing you know the whole thing’s gone.”
Ober described the remains of the structure as “a barely recognizable skeleton of a house.”
Reporter Gaen Murphree is at gaenm@addisonindependent.com.

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