Police investigate Waltham home fire

WALTHAM — Investigators from the Vermont State Police and the Division of Fire Safety’s Fire Investigation Unit are still probing the causes of two fires at one Waltham home on Dec. 29 and 30, the second of which left the building at least temporarily uninhabitable.
According to a state police press release, the Vergennes Fire Department responded at about 6 p.m. on Dec. 29 to a 911 call from 1643 Green St. in Waltham after occupant Mirabai Verner-Lust “called to report her house was filled with smoke and on fire. Upon arrival the fire department found a 2 foot X 2 foot area of carpet had been burned in the living room.”
Per Vergennes police, the Vergennes Area Rescue Squad also responded to treat Verner-Lust for smoke inhalation, and VARS personnel called city police for help because Verner-Lust, 28, was not cooperative with them. Verner-Lust told authorities she did not know how the fire started.
The first fire caused little damage to a structure Vergennes Fire Chief Jim Breur described as “a mobile home with additions,” and city firefighters quickly handled the carpet fire with a fire extinguisher and water.
They also provided batteries for smoke detectors at the home, and officials said Verner-Lust returned.
At 12:12 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 30, Vergennes firefighters were called again to the Green Street home, and this time were met with what Breur called “heavy fire on the front porch that had invaded the structure.”
About a dozen-and-a-half city firefighters were joined by a dozen more from Ferrisburgh and Addison, Breur said, and they were able to save the home with about an hour of hard work. Some firefighters, including Breur, stayed on the scene longer, until around 7 p.m., and conferred with state investigators.
“The guys did a fantastic job putting it out,” Breur said.
Especially considering the nature of the structure, he added, “It’s pretty amazing it’s together.”
But it is not habitable.
“It’s going to need a lot of work to get back in that trailer,” Breur said. “It’s not livable.”
According to the state police press release, “Verner-Lust was sleeping (at the time of the second fire) when the fire was noticed and called in to 911. Verner-Lust was transported to Porter Hospital in Middlebury for minor injuries she sustained while escaping from the home.”
Breur said that Verner-Lust told firefighters she was asleep in a bedroom and woke up and called authorities when she realized there was a fire.
According to VSP, “The fire was determined to have started on the outside porch area of the home, near the front entrance.”
Both Breur and city police declined to comment on what might have started the blazes, citing the ongoing investigation. 
VSP are asking anyone with information about the fire to contact Det. Sgt. Todd Ambroz of the Vermont State Police at (802) 878-7111 or Vergennes police at 877-2201. 
The state police press release also stated the “Vermont Arson Tip Award Program (VATAP) also offers an award of up to $5,000 for information which leads to the arrest of the person(s) who are involved in an arson fire — 1-800-322-7766.”

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