UPDATE: (Sunday, April 29th, 2012)
By Eric Francis
WEST WOODSTOCK – Two dogs perished Saturday afternoon in a fire that completely destroyed a residence and an attached garage at the end of a steep driveway above Cox District Road in Woodstock.
Stone mason Jesse Filiault, his wife Jackie, and the couple’s children were out watching the Bridgewater raft race when the fire broke out. Woodstock Fire Chief L.D. Sutherland Jr. said it was apparent that the single-story residence had been burning for some time before neighbors noticed something was amiss and called for help at 1 p.m.
“By the time we got there it was just a big cellar hole,” Chief Sutherland said, recalling that tenant Jesse Filiault came back to a scene of utter destruction. “He just said, ‘How am I going to explain to my kids what happened to their doggies?’” Sutherland recalled. Woodstock’s volunteer firefighters were joined at the scene by engines, water tankers and crews from the neighboring South Woodstock, Bridgewater, Barnard, North Pomfret, Teago and Hartford departments and an effort was made to try and save the attached garage but the flames had such a head start there was little that could be done.
“There was a lot of stuff in it and we laid down about a thousand feet of supply line but we lost the battle,” Sutherland said of the garage.
As for the cause of the blaze, Sutherland said that it officially remains undetermined although the fire is not considered suspicious.
“I’m thinking it could have been the woodstove because of the way it was installed but there’s really just not enough left there to tell,” Sutherland said. “It was cold in the morning and he had a fire going. The woodstove was installed in a fireplace and it sat on a hearth; however, the hearth wasn’t big enough and the woodstove overhung the hearth and hung out onto the wood floor,” Sutherland explained, continuing, “We’ve seen it happen before where sparks jump out of a woodstove and get between the hearth and the floor. It could even have happened yesterday or the day before and just been smoldering under the carpet or whatever.”
The house, which was owned by Walter Klein of Arizona, was a replacement for one that burned on the same property four decades ago.
“Years and years ago Frank Gaye built that house and that house burned in almost a similar situation around 1970 back when we were still a village fire department,” Sutherland said.
___ ____ ____ ____
(posted Saturday April 28th, 2012)
Woodstock Emergency Services confirm that a structure fire on Cox District Road in Woodstock was called in at 1 p.m. today. Crews from Woodstock, South Woodstock, Pomfret, Teago, Bridgewater, Barnard and Hartford fire departments responded as well as the Woodstock Ambulance crew. The house was fully engulfed upon arrival , and no injuries are reported. More details are expected soon.