The Vermont State Police disseminate press releases for significant criminal or public safety incidents and arrests, but it is not intended to document every public contact or response to a call-for-service. If you have a question regarding an incident or case, please contact your local state police barracks or the public information officer. Please note press releases are available on this blog for 6 months following their public release. Please contact the public information officer if you need access to one that is older.

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July 23, 2016

Press Release

Department of Public Safety
Vermont State Police & Division of Fire Safety
Fire Investigators: Detective Sergeant Todd Ambroz and Assistant Fire Marshal Joshua Maxham
Case # 16C302497
Date: 7/23/16 @ 3:23 AM
Victims: Thomas A. Lebarron age 68, Phyllis L. Rowe age 80 of 366 North Branch St., Bennington, VT

On July 23, 2016 at approximately 3:23 AM the Bennington Fire Department responded to a 911 call for a fire at 366 North Branch Street.  The caller advised a woman might still be trapped inside the home.  Bennington Fire Department quickly responded and found the outside porch and the dining room on fire inside the home.  Phyllis L. Rowe was found unconscious on the floor of a room adjacent to the dining room.  She was transported from the scene by ambulance and was then flown to the trauma and burn center in Westchester County New York due to the severe smoke inhalation.  No further information regarding her medical condition is available at the time of this press release.  At 4:18 AM The Bennington Fire Chief contacted the State Fire Investigation Unit to request an origin and cause investigation for the fire.  Det. Sgt. Todd Ambroz – VSP and Assistant Fire Marshal Joshua Maxham – DFS, responded to the scene at 7 AM.  Thomas Lebarron remained at the scene, did not want medical attention for his cuts and burns, and was able to recount what happened.  He advised his wife woke him up at about 3:20 AM after she smelled smoke.  They both attempted to get out of the house after smoke began quickly filling the first floor of the home.  Lebarron said he could not see and it was difficult to breath so he punched out a first floor window and crawled out onto the driveway.  When he turned around to help Phyllis Rowe get out of the window she was not there.  Lebarron ran for help and woke up his neighbors and yelled for them to call 911.  The investigation revealed the origin of the fire was in the dining room of the residence close to a wall outlet, specifically near a power strip that was plugged into it.  The power strip had numerous electrical items plugged into it including a toaster, a hot plate, coffee pot, and an extension cord which provided power to items inside a detached garage.  The electrical wiring in the home was still the nob and tube style with the cloth covered wires.  Although the exact cause of the fire is undetermined due to the several electrical appliances located in the area of origin, it does appear this is an electrical related issue and not a suspicious or intentionally set fire.   Anyone with any information regarding this fire is asked to please contact Det. Sgt. Todd Ambroz of the Vermont State Police at 802-878-7111. 


Detective Sergeant Todd Ambroz
A-Troop Fire Investigation Unit
Williston, VT 05495
Office 802-878-7111
Fax 802-878-2742
todd.ambroz@vermont.gov