A fire caused extensive damage to a Hobbs Road home this morning, but Milton Fire Chief Don Turner said there were no injuries, and the building is salvageable.
Milton, Georgia and Colchester fire departments all responded to the blaze, reported around 5 a.m. Wednesday. The home, at 26 Hobbs Road, is owned by Harry Barber. Both he and another adult escaped safely, Turner said. The American Red Cross assisted on scene.
When the first crews arrived, flames were billowing out of the overhanging roof on the two-story home’s west side, Turner said. First responders entered and attacked the fire from the attic, and upon later arrival, others battled the flames from the outside.
The blaze was quelled in about 15 minutes, but another 90 was spent ensuring it wouldn’t reignite and on clean-up. Metal roofing material contained the fire instead of allowing it to vent, as a wood or shingled covering would, Turner said, so crews had to pull down the second-story ceilings.
“We had to make sure there wasn’t further extension,” he said. “We did have more fire, so it’s good we did that.”
Turner tasked fire investigator Jesse Dobiecki from Colchester Center Volunteer Fire Company to determine the cause. It is not suspicious, Dobiecki determined: Wooden framing was placed too close to a metal chimney connected to an operating woodstove.
Dobiecki, also an assistant fire marshal with the Vermont Division of Fire Safety, recommended homeowners properly install all heating components. In this case, the wooden frame, a combustible object, should have been at least two inches away from the chimney, he said.
“The metal chimney is designed to absorb heat; [two inches of clearance is] an adequate distance. But you don’t want to put your jacket two inches from your woodstove,” Turner said.
The woodstove itself should have 18 inches of clearance from all flammable items, Dobiecki said, suggesting homeowners always follow manufacturer recommendations. Ample resources are available at firesafety.vermont.gov and at NFPA.org.
The home is heavily damaged by water, smoke and heat, but other than the roof, it is structurally sound, Turner said. He estimates the loss could range from $70,000 – $100,000. There was no damage to any fire equipment, he added.
“It’s an unfortunate situation, but fortunately, no one was injured, and we can move on and use this as a reminder to keep things combustible away from heating appliances,” Turner said. “Winter is tough as it is, and you have this stuff to compound it.”