By Eric Francis
HARTLAND FOUR CORNERS – A fire that broke out first thing on Sunday morning in the trailer park right behind the Skunk Hollow Tavern left a carpenter and his girlfriend homeless.
Joseph Ouellette’s girlfriend had already left for work when neighbors spotted flames rolling from his attached carport at 5:30 a.m. and began frantically pounding on his bedroom window at the opposite end of his trailer from the swiftly expanding fire.
“The carport was fully involved along with the pickup truck that was parked adjacent to it and it was starting into the mobile home when I arrived,” Hartland Chief John Sanders recalled. “There were conflicting reports as to whether or not everyone was out. I arrived in my personal vehicle and confirmed that everybody was indeed out, thanks in great part to the neighbors who did a good job of waking him up.”
“We had an engine on scene about ten minutes later with a full crew and they did an excellent attack and put out the fire with the assistance of Windsor and Hartford,” whose departments sent tankers and engines to the scene on Davis Road.
During the early stages of the fire suppression effort, “We had an immediate concern for two other nearby exposures,” Sanders said. “We had one trailer that was full of exotic birds and a family and we had another trailer that was even closer so we addressed those in our attack strategy,” with crews manning hand lines.
Although the fire did not spread to the other residences, Ouellette’s pickup truck was destroyed and “the trailer is a loss. It’s not livable,” the chief said, describing Ouellette as “distraught” at the extent of the damages, which Vermont State Police Fire Marshal Lt. James Cruise estimated amounted to $75,000 or more worth of losses.
“It is not suspicious. The cause was most likely electric,” Chief Sanders explained, “We were more or less able to identify the area in which the fire probably started,” in the small carpentry workshop that had been set up under the carport.
“We cannot rule out the battery charging system,” for some of the tools as having been the cause, Sanders said.
Volunteers from the American Red Cross were contacted Sunday in an effort to help make arrangements to house the displaced couple.