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‘We’ll Get Through It’: Vermont Construction Firm Destroyed by Fire

Vermont Timber Works was leveled by a fire blamed on spontaneous combustion

A Vermont construction company with a far-reaching reputation is itself making plans to rebuild, following a devastating weekend fire that tore through the property and turned the sky orange over the North Springfield design and engineering firm.

At what’s left of Vermont Timber Works Monday, the business’s owners met with their insurance company.

“It’s a building and its contents,” observed co-owner Dan Kelleher. “Nobody was hurt and everything is replaceable.”

The company has shipped its timber frames as far away as California and Texas, Kelleher noted. Among its well-known jobs locally is the 80-foot octagonal Spruce Peak Base Lodge at the famous Stowe Mountain Resort.

“They’re known for their craftsmanship and their excellence,” said Bob Flint at the Springfield Regional Development Corporation, which is helping the company find temporary space so it can continue its work on pending projects.

The property was labeled a total loss by fire investigators, and the owners are already thinking of a permanent fix.

“The plan is to take this building down as quickly as possible and rebuild it, and be up and running at this location as soon as we can,” said Doug Friant, the other co-owner of Vermont Timber Works.

According to the Vermont Division of Fire Safety, the fire was accidental. Investigators quickly pinpointed a cause: spontaneous combustion inside dumpsters near the building.

The dumpster had sawdust in them, fire officials said, along with rags used to stain wood. That combination was a dangerous mix in Saturday's heat, according to state investigators.

The Vermont Division of Fire Safety is now urging other businesses to think about their trash if they deal with that kind of material, reminding them dumpsters containing possible fire hazards belong at least 10 feet from a building.

The Division of Fire Safety said the Vermont Timber Works case might’ve had a different outcome if its dumpsters weren’t so close to the building.

“We’ll just take it one day at a time,” Kelleher said of the business’s recovery. “We’ll get through it.”

For now, Kelleher and Friant said they are just grateful everyone’s safe. The businessmen thanked area fire departments and community members for their assistance and support.

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