Firefighters from nine departments battled a fire which destroyed a 200-year old farmhouse in South Newfane, Vermont on Sunday, August 8, 2004.
The fire began in the basement of the balloon-frame structure around 9 AM. A bicyclist passing by the property saw smoke and stopped at a nearby business to report the fire. Firefighters from South Newfane-Williamsville Fire Department and East Dover Fire Department arrived on scene to find a 2-story home and attached addition with heavy smoke and fire on the first and second floor of the main house, as well as the basement. Firefighters began attacking the fire and a water source was established in the Rock River in the village of South Newfane.
Mutual aid units were called from Brattleboro, West Dummerston, West Dover, Wilmington, Marlboro, and Newbrook, Vt. and Chesterfield, N.H. for engines, tankers and manpower. Local residents graciously came to the aid of firefighters, providing food and drinks. An ambulance from Rescue Inc. handled rehab functions.
The fire spread rapidly. Deteriorating conditions and a collapsing roof forced firefighters to abandon interior operations and take a defensive stance using hoselines and a deck gun from outside the structure. Heavy fire blew from windows on the western side of the house. Firefighters positioned a hoseline to protect a wood-frame barn located adjacent to the main house. The barn was not damaged.
The fire was called under control around 11 AM. Vermont State Police investigators were called in to investigate the cause of the fire, which is believed to have started with a malfunction of a propane furnace in the basement of the home. The investigation is still ongoing.