Four Weekend Fires Thought To Be Arson

Front Page / Aug. 24, 2006 12:00am EDT

Four Weekend Fires Thought To Be Arson

Four Weekend Fires Thought To Be Arson

State police in Vermont continue to investigate four suspicious structure fires—in Sharon, Royalton, Barnard, and West Hartford—that occurred within 13 hours of one another, from Friday afternoon to early Saturday morning.

It now appears that the fires are not related to a series of bombings that occurred in South Royalton and in New Hampshire around the same time, police said this week. (See separate article.)

Three of the fires—which destroyed a mobile home on Route 14 in Sharon, a storage trailer in Royalton, and damaged a camp in Barnard—were reported within 30 minutes of each other on Friday afternoon. The fourth fire, which leveled a home on Route 14 in West Hartford, was reported at 2:30 a.m. Saturday.

No one was in any of the three structures that burned Friday, but two residents along with their three pets had to use a ladder to escape from the West Hartford fire.

The first fire, at the Sharon home of Jeff Rice, was reported at around 1:20 p.m. on Friday, when a neighbor noticed smoke coming out of the mobile home. Rice was not at home at the time.

The Sharon fire was reported during the middle of the funeral of Army Sgt. Carlton Clark, at the nearby Sharon church.

Because of the suspicious nature of the fire, state police asked members of the Sharon Fire Department to stand guard at the site overnight, until investigators could later return.

Twelve minutes after the alarm for the Sharon fire, Bethel firefighters were dispatched to a camp on Daniels Road in Barnard, near the Royalton border. No one was home at the time, police said.

A state police investigator said a vehicle on the property had also burned, in what appeared to be a separate fire.

As Bethel firefighters were on their way to the Barnard fire, they came across a fire at the base of Royalton Hill Road. This fire destroyed a larger trailer on the property of Dan Knaeble that had been used for storage.

Then, at around 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, fire fighters from nine fire departments responded to the West Hartford fire on Route 14. Thanks to a smoke alarm, residents and their pets were able to escape the blaze.

Firefighters worked throughout the night to keep the flames away from two neighboring buildings.

In addition to Hartford, firefighters and equipment from South Royalton, Sharon, North Pomfret, Woodstock, and four New Hampshire departments assisted at the blaze.

Anyone with any information related to these fires is asked to contact Det. Sgt. Cruise at 234-9933 or 773-9101, or contact the Vermont Arson Tip Award Program (VATAP) at 1-800-32-ARSON.


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