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January 17, 2017

Fire investigation

VSP Press Release-Incident


CASE#: 17A5000205
TROOPER:  Det. Sgt. Larry Smith                             
STATION:  Fire unit                   
CONTACT#:  802-748-3111

DATE/TIME: 01/17/17
LOCATION: 329 Four Wheel Dr. Rd. Brighton, Vt.
VIOLATION: Fire Investigation


VICTIM: Robert Hook

SUMMARY OF INCIDENT: On 01/15/2017 at 0057 hours The Brighton Volunteer Fire
Department responded to a report of a structure fire at the above location. The
fire department arrived to discover the structure, in this case was two mobile
homes joined together and both were fully engulfed. There were 4 subjects
staying in the house at the time of the fire and all were able to make it out
safely. The fire department was able to extinguish the fire initially and clear
from the scene but subsequently had to return at approximately 1130 hours for a
rekindle. Both mobile homes were a total loss. The Brighton Fire Chief called
the Department of Public Safety Fire Investigation requesting an origin and
cause investigation be conducted. The fire chief had concerns with circumstances
present prior to the fire and therefore requested an investigation.

On 01/05/17 The Brighton Assistant Chief Walt Driscoll contacted the Department of Children and Families with concerns for the welfare of the children residing in this house. The Assistant Chief had learned the house was not equipped with working smoke or CO detectors. He had also learned there had been some electrical issues at the house that involved flickering lights. Based on this information he was concerned with the welfare of the children and contacted DCF. Investigators from DCF along with Investigator Tim Angell from the Division of Fire Safety conducted an inspection of the home. Investigator Angell discovered there were no working smoke or CO detectors within the house. Investigator Angell also observed several other areas of concern pertaining to power in the house. Investigator Angell informed the home owners they needed to install working smoke and CO detectors and make arrangements for an electrician to inspect the house. Investigator Angell requested that the owners provide photographic proof to him the detectors had been installed. This installation had been completed and proof was provided to Investigator Angell.

On the morning of the fire, the resident staying at the house, Ronald Horton was watching the 3 minor children when he was awakened by the sound of a smoke detector going off. Once awake, he observed heavy fire conditions present in the portion of the trailer that was no longer in use. HE was then able to wake the children and remove them from the house prior to the building becoming fully engulfed in flames.

It is clear in this case had the Brighton Assistant Fire Chief not reached out to vocalize his concerns regarding the welfare of these children the outcome could have been much worse. Investigator Angell through his inspection and required follow up resulted in smoke and CO detectors being installed in the home. These detectors going off ultimately resulted in the saving of four lives on this date. These individuals should be commended for their hard work, dedication and commitment to public safety.

This should be a remind for us all of the importance of properly installed and working smoke and  CO detectors.

*Please note:  court date and time are subject to change at the discretion of
the court. Please call the criminal court clerk to confirm arraignment time.

Detective Sergeant Larry Smith
Vermont State Police
Fire Investigation Unit
Troop B
Office # 802-748-3111 Ext. 2525
Cell # 802-399-9406