Fire destroys Chester home on Sunday, donations welcome

Fire engulfs the home on First Avenue. Photos by Claudio Veliz.

Fire engulfs the home on First Avenue. Photos by Claudio Veliz. Click to launch the gallery.

By Cynthia Prairie
©2015-The Chester Telegraph

Chester Fire Chief Matt Wilson says that a fire that destroyed the home of Andy and Judy Lavallee on First Avenue in Chester on Sunday was not suspicious, but that the cause has not been officially confirmed.

According to the Chester Fire Department, firefighters responded around 8:30 a.m. to the fire, with assistance from firefighters from Springfield, Proctorsville, Rockingham, Bellows Falls, Londonderry and Walpole, N.H. Also assisting were crews from Ludlow and Charlestown, N.H.

Wilson added that the Lavallees escaped the fire with their dog and without sustaining injuring. One firefighter – not from Chester – was injured Sunday and was taken to Springfield Hospital but was expected to be released that afternoon.

Firefighters from a number of surrounding communities came to aid in the efforts.

Firefighters from a number of surrounding communities came to aid in the efforts.

Wilson said that to fight a fire in extreme temperatures, it is crucial to swap out personnel to avoid heat stroke and dehydration in the heat and hypothermia and frostbite in the cold. In freezing temperatures such as we have had in the northeast, firefighters also must deal with freezing hose lines.

The fire was under control around 2 p.m. Sunday. Later that night – about 20 minutes after the end of the Super Bowl – Chester crews returned to the scene to deal with a flare-up. Crews departed shortly after 1 a.m.

Pat Budnick of Motel in the Meadow stepped in to offer housing to the family and the Chester-Andover Family Center extended an offer of help.

How you can help

Monetary donations may be dropped off in the collection bucket at the American Legion at 637 Route 103 South in Chester.  Checks made payable to the American Legion Post #67 with Lavallee Fund written in the memo can be sent to P.O. Box 75, Chester, VT  05143.

Also, Liz Smith, Judy Lavallee’s daughter, has set up a GoFundMe website for donations.

Inside 3

It took firefighters a bit over five hours to get the fire under control.

It took firefighters a bit over five hours to get the fire under control.

But firefighters had to return late in the evening to douse a flare-up.

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Filed Under: ChesterFeaturedLatest News

About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 30 years. She has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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