Middlebury fire linked to storm

MIDDLEBURY — Thanksgiving might still be a few weeks away, but a Middlebury family has good reason to be thankful to still have a home and their health following a Nov. 1 windstorm-related fire at 629 Happy Valley Road.
Homeowner Martin Beatty called for fire department assistance at around 4:50 a.m. this past Wednesday, reporting smoke in the house, according to Middlebury fire Chief Dave Shaw.
A combined 35 firefighters from the Middlebury, Cornwall and New Haven fire departments responded to the blaze, which is believed to have been triggered when an electrical wire along the outside of the home pulled on the exhaust pipe of the family’s pellet stove. Shaw said the electrical wire in question travels through a wooded area on the Beatty’s property, and he suspects heavy winds in Monday morning’s windstorm placed stress on a tree that likely pulled on the wire.
The wire opened the joint of the pellet stove exhaust pipe, which sent sparks under the siding at the southwest corner of the home, Shaw believes. The resulting fire began to work its way into the wall of the structure, according to Shaw.
Fortunately, firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze before it could do a lot of damage inside the structure, officials said. The incorporation of a horizontal stabilizer within the construction of the timber-frame home also helped stop the progress of the blaze, according to Shaw.
The presence of storm-strewn debris within the narrow driveway of the residence presented some access problems for fire vehicles, Shaw noted. He is encouraging residents to try to ensure clear driveways during and after windstorms so as to give emergency officials a better shot at maximizing their response time.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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