Authorities seek information in suspicious fire on Green Mountain Turnpike

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2015 Telegraph Publishing, LLC

UPDATE 9 a.m. April 22, 2015: State police investigators confirm that they have not determined the cause of the fire and characterize it as suspicious. The loss of the house and barn are estimated at $250,000 and anyone with information about the fire is asked to call the arson tip line at 1-800-32-ARSON (There is up to a $5,000 reward for information resulting in an arrest)

Chester firefighters and state fire inspector confer on Sunday morning with burnt remains of the house in the background.

Chester firefighters and state fire inspector confer on Sunday morning with burnt remains of the house in the background.

At 10:52 p.m. on Saturday, April 18 the Chester Fire Department received an alarm for a house and barn fire at 2703 Green Mountain Turnpike.

The house, which was owned by Meredith Rubins, was uninhabited and had been the target of vandals several times, according to Fire Chief Matt Wilson.

Wilson noted that there was no electrical power connected to the house, pointing to another cause and making it suspicious.  While the investigation is ongoing, authorities ask the public to report anything out of the ordinary in that area prior to or at the time of the fire. Call the Arson Tip Line at 800-322-7666 or the Chester Police Department at 875-2035.

Despite the late hour of the Saturday alarm, Chester  trucks responded in six minutes followed by Proctorsville, Springfield, Bellows Falls, Rockingham, Ludlow and Grafton departments.

The Phoenix Fire Company of Londonderry covered the Chester Station.

Wilson said firefighters drew water from the Williams River to put down the blaze. Saturday was a “red flag” day – when outdoor burning can lead to brush fires – and in this instance fire fighters had to put out a brush fire to keep the blaze from spreading to a small building behind the barn.  It took more than four hours to put out the fire, with Chester returning to its station around 3:30 a.m. One truck stayed on the scene to secure the site until 11 a.m., when fire investigators had the opportunity to visit. There were no injuries among the firefighters responding.

Along with the fires at the Brooks-Lackie house in 2012 and Field Farm in 2014, the Rubins house is third suspicious fire in vacant old houses  in Chester in recent years. Wilson noted that the while the Field Farm had only one report of vandalism prior to the fire, the other two were repeatedly vandalized.

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  1. Diana Ashworth says:

    It’s a shame that Chester has lost such lovely old houses to arson.