Despite Major Fire, VT Newspaper Meets Regular Deadline

The Vermont Standard published on time Thursday, despite being forced from its newsroom after a devastating fire.

A major fire in the heart of a quintessential Vermont community could not shut down one business, which had to report the news even when it became the news.

The Vermont Standard newspaper printed its weekly edition on time Thursday, despite suffering a major fire earlier this week.

Newspaper president Phil Camp’s 165-year-old weekly, which serves the Woodstock area, was one of several business affected by flames Monday.

The fire tore through a building housing the paper, a pizza restaurant, apartments, and an art gallery.

The Woodstock Fire Department said the total damage to those properties was estimated at roughly a million dollars.

They sat right in the heart of iconic downtown Woodstock.

“It would be easy [to become dispirited],” Camp told NBC 10 Boston Thursday. “But I’m not going to do it!”

Instead, Camp’s small staff rallied to put out a newspaper by the normal weekly deadline.

With the newsroom uninhabitable for a few weeks, the Standard’s been writing, editing, and doing its layout inside the local library.

The news team said a week off was simply out of the question, because loyal readers are counting on them.

“All we can do is make it work,” said production manager Lisa Wright. “We’ve got what we need: our computers were saved, we’ve got internet—we’re good to go.”

Investigators are now looking into whether the fire was an accident or arson. Fire officials believe it started in the first floor of the building, in the pizzeria.

Investigators want to hear from anyone who may have cell phone photos of the fire Monday morning, or from people who witnessed the flames, at 1-800-32-ARSON.

“We need everybody’s help,” said Det. Sgt. Todd Ambroz of the Vermont State Police. “Because everybody plays a key role, by their pictures or what they saw.”

Back at the presses, the front page of this week’s Vermont Standard reads a bold “Thank you.”

Camp said his gratitude goes out to the communities that supported their firefighters, to the businesses that offered space and help moving equipment, and even to friends and advertisers for offers of financial support for the paper.

“We have never missed a publication yet,” said assistant editor Virginia Dean. “Even this week.”

This is not the first disaster to befall the Standard, Camp noted. Its previous building was destroyed in Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

Camp said the paper survived that emergency, and will survive this one, too.

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