Windham house destroyed in afternoon blaze

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The back of the Werner house with a collapsed deck.

The back of the Werner house with a collapsed deck. All photos by Shawn Cunningham.

By the time firefighters reached the house at the top of Windham Springs Road Tuesday afternoon it was entirely ablaze, said Windham Fire Chief Rick Weitzel who was in command at the scene.

“The walls were still standing, but the roof was gone and the garage was fully engulfed in flames. There  was no saving anything,” Weitzel said, adding that  he called fire investigators in shortly after arriving.

Det. Sgt. Steve Otis and Det. Sgt. Dave Sutton, fire investigators for the Vermont State Police, and Fire Marshall Josh Maxham, of the state Department of Fire Safety, arrived by mid-afternoon to investigate.

weitzel and otis

Fire investigator Steve Otis, left, speaks with Windham Fire Chief Rick Weitzel

As an excavator pulled charred wreckage out for firefighters to hose down, Otis said that with fire damage this extensive it is difficult to pinpoint a cause. “You rely on the firefighters. These guys are first responders who see what’s happening when they get here,” said Otis. “They know how fire spreads and they’ve got the best information – what’s burning, what’s still standing and what’s not.”

In this case, Otis explained that there was a garage, a small connecting building and then the house.

Firefighters mop up with the help of an excavator

Firefighters mop up with the help of an excavator

“When firefighters got here that middle room was gone,” said Otis. “The chief spoke with the homeowners who mentioned there had been an electrical problem while they spent the time there recently, and it turned out to be in that middle section.”

While Otis could not confirm that the electrical problem was the cause of the fire, he noted that the fire occurred in the middle of the day, that contractors were maintaining the driveway and family members were around in the morning.

The owners, Carol and Evan Werner, were out when the fire began and returned to the house to find it on fire.  Otis said that the circumstances  were enough to give him confidence that there was no foul play involved.

Helping the Windham Volunteer Fire Co. were the Phoenix and Champion companies from Londonderry, and Winhall, Jamaica, Chester and Wardsboro fire departments and the Londonderry Rescue Squad. There were no reported injuries.

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