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February 23, 2017


Department of Public Safety
Vermont State Police
Subject: Fire investigation at South Hero residence
Date: 2/9/17
Case: 17A200691
Address: 253 U.S. Route 2, South Hero
Victims: Elinor Lawrence, age 87, and Carolyn Lawrence, age 54.

On February 9, 2017 at approximately 1:33 PM the South Hero Fire Department, and numerous surrounding fire departments, responded to a house fire at 253 U.S. Route 2 in South Hero.  The Fire Investigation Unit, which consists of Fire Investigators from the Vermont State Police and the Division of Fire Safety, also responded to the scene to conduct an origin and cause investigation.  Preliminary findings showed the most competent ignition source in the general area of origin at the time the fire was noticed was the active burn pit located 33 feet from the garage.  After continued examination of the scene, a compilation of all of the photographs from witnesses, an examination of the compressor from the chest freezer located in the garage, it appears the fire may have started in the breezeway between the garage and the main portion of the house.  The compressor on the 20 year old freezer was found to have seized up and may have caused resistance heating along the power cord, extension cord, or at the outlet at which it was plugged into.  Due to the extensive damage from the fire the outlets and extension cord were either completely consumed or melted to the point they could not provide additional information regarding the cause of the fire.   Both of the causes being examined are considered accidental causes, however due to the fact that neither the burn pit, nor an electrical malfunction due to resistance heating can be eliminated, the cause of the fire will classified as undetermined.  Anyone with additional information or photographs is asked to please contact Detective Sergeant Todd Ambroz of the Vermont State Police at 802-878-7111 or at  

Detective Sergeant Todd Ambroz
Vermont State Police, Troop A
Fire Investigation Unit
Williston, VT 05495
Office 802-878-7111
Fax 802-878-2742