Cause unknown, no injuries in Shelburne structure fire

Photos by Lee Krohn
Shelburne Fire Department Deputy Chief John “J.J.” Goodrich (foreground) on scene at Tuesday’s structure fire on Harbor Road. In back, Shelburne firefighter Greg Forsyth, right, works alongside another firefighter from a neighboring crew. The building was a total loss.

By MADELINE HUGHES

A vacant barn tucked into the woods off Harbor Road was destroyed by fire Tuesday despite firefighters from four departments battling the blaze that triggered live ammunition stored inside.

No one was injured and the structure was vacant at the time, according to fire officials.

Just after 1 p.m. Tuesday, Shelburne dispatch received calls about smoke visible from 2100 Harbor Road near the intersection of Bay Road in the vicinity of Shelburne Farms.

Shelburne Police Cpl. Jon Marcoux was the first on the scene. “Yes, there was a lot of smoke in the area,” he said.

The site was set back to the east of Harbor Road with the burning barn not easily visible from the main road. The plume of smoke, however, could be seen for miles.

Hinesburg Firefighter Jeremy Southwell in the silhouette. Multiple departments responded in mutual aid to the call.

After arriving on scene, Marcoux retreated to the road and waited for additional firefighters to arrive. Four departments – Shelburne, Burlington, Charlotte, and South Burlington – responded to the call. Members of the Red Cross were also at the scene. Over 35 personnel responded to the fire, Shelburne Fire Chief Jerry Ouimet said.

“The barn was nestled in the trees, and no one was home, so people didn’t report it until they started seeing smoke,” he said.

The building was fully engulfed by the time additional firefighters arrived, Ouimet said. Firefighters heard ammunition popping from inside and could not get close until they knew it was safe to do so, he added.

Firefighters pumped water from a hydrant on Harbor Road, running a line about half a mile up the driveway to reach the barn that was engulfed in flames. They laid over 3,000 feet of  supply line to pump water, Ouimet said.

The barn was located away from a separate home on the property, but was used as a living space with furniture and electricity to the space.

Crews were active on the scene throughout the day for more than seven hours, Ouimet said. Three firefighters and a truck stayed watch over the property Tuesday night until the state arson investigator arrived Wednesday morning to begin an investigation into the cause of the blaze.

The building is a total loss, Ouimet said. The property is owned by Tom Cabot, confirmed Town Clerk Diana Vachon.

This was the second fire at this address in just over two years. Ouimet said that in December 2016 the residence on the property caught fire due to an electrical issue.

Regarding Tuesday’s blaze, Ouimet said the owner was roughly two hours away at the time of the fire.

The large property backs up to Shelburne Bay Park to the east. Neighbors driving by the fire on Tuesday afternoon asked about animals possibly being hurt in the fire. Ouimet confirmed no animals were harmed in the fire. Goats on the farm over the summer were recently sold, he said.

The remaining animals nearby were a small herd of Scottish Highland cattle. They were grazing in a pasture close to the road away from the fire as crews extinguished the blaze.

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