Investigators search for cause: Public’s help sought in Harbor Road barn fire, reward offered

Vermont State Police Photo
Shelburne firefighters and fire investigators excavate the scene in search of fire patterns and any possible clues as to how the fire began on Jan. 8.

By LISA SCAGLIOTTI

Shelburne and Vermont State Police continue to investigate the cause of the fire that destroyed a partially converted barn on Harbor Road last week.

Investigators have not ruled out arson as a possible explanation and they are seeking help from the public. A state tip line offers a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to the arrest of an arsonist, police said.

No one was injured in the fire and the building was unoccupied at the time, officials said.

Dozens of firefighters from multiple local departments battled the blaze for much of last Tuesday afternoon and evening.

Flames and smoke from the blaze at 2100 Harbor Road rose over the treetops although the structure itself was set far back from the road down a driveway approximately 3,000 feet long and not visible to passersby.

The distance from the road and water supply challenged firefighters who had to use several thousand feet of water line to reach the flames.

The building also contained ammunition that was set off in the fire, adding to the challenge for those on scene, fire officials said.

The Shelburne Fire Department was first called to the scene just after 1 p.m. and arrived to find the two-story wood barn fully engulfed in flames.

Crews from fire departments in Charlotte, Burlington and South Burlington were called to assist, while Hinesburg and Ferrisburgh crews covered fire stations in Shelburne and Charlotte.

Shelburne Fire Chief Jerry Ouimet requested the Vermont Department of Public Safety Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit on scene to conduct an origin and cause investigation. Investigators began their work the following day, state police said.

Investigators said the barn and all of its contents are considered a total loss. So far, they have determined that the fire originated on the right side of the building when facing it, but the exact cause is still unknown.

They described the barn’s size at approximately 112 x 28 feet, with a metal roof.

In addition to state and local police, the investigation involves staff from the Burlington Fire Marshal’s office and state fire marshals from the Division of Fire Safety.

Anyone with information that might aid the investigation is asked to contact either Det. Sgt. Todd Ambroz at the State Police Barracks in Williston, 802-878-7111 or email todd.ambroz@vermont.gov; or Cpl. Jon Marcoux of the Shelburne Police Department at 802-985-8051.

Another contact is the Vermont Arson Tip Award Program at 1-800-32-ARSON (800-322-7766). The program offers a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to the arrest of an arsonist.

Police said the property is owned by Thomas Cabot, age 66, of Shelburne. The Shelburne News has not been able to reach him for comment.

Shelburne fire officials said the property was the scene of another fire in December 2016.

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