Fire destroys home off Route 17 in West Addison

ADDISON — Firefighters from Addison, Bridport and Vergennes on Wednesday evening responded to a home fire on Route 17 near Lake Champlain, but were unable to save the structure from what Addison Fire Chief Brad Clark called the fastest-moving blaze he has seen in his 36 years serving the department.
The doublewide home destroyed was on the Chimney Point Farm, about a half-mile north of the Champlain Bridge marina, and owned and occupied by Peter Smith. Clark said firefighters were called out at about 5 p.m. and could do little by the time they arrived shortly afterward.
“At the point we got there it was just to protect other structures,” said Clark, who arrived from his job in Vergennes just after the first wave of responders and added, “According to the guys who got there the house was pretty well involved.”
No one was injured, and Clark said the only home occupant inside at the time escaped the fire after hearing a smoke detector sound.
“The biggest thing is that smoke detectors save lives,” Clark said.
The fire spread quickly through the one-story home because of winds from the west that gusted up to 40 mph. Clark said firefighters believe the fire started in the home’s west end, and the windy conditions quickly fanned the flames.
“It pushed the fire right through to the other end,” Clark said, adding, “It was the fastest I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen a structure go that quickly.”
Firefighters found the closest wall of a garage about 15 to 20 feet west of the home beginning to burn, but were able to put out that fire and preserve that building.
But the home and just about everything inside were lost.
“We were able to save a few photo albums,” Clark said.
As of late on Thursday county fire investigators had not yet determined the cause of the fire.
“We’re waiting on the results of their findings,” Clark said.
All five of the Addison department’s trucks and about two-dozen Addison firefighters responded, plus five Bridport and four Vergennes trucks and firefighters from those departments. Firefighters were on the scene for a little more than four hours.
Home fires are relatively rare in Addison, but it was the second in Addison in recent weeks and during Clark’s tenure as chief, which began in January, when he took over from longtime department head Chris Mulliss.
The other fire came in March and also damaged a doublewide, that one on Town House Road. But without wind like this past Wednesday’s, Clark said damage was still major, but more limited. The most recent fire in Addison before then came in July 2018.
“Two fires in a couple months is a lot for us,” Clark said.

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