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February 19, 2020

Derby Barracks/Structure Fire


Incident/ Fire Investigation - Greensboro, Vermont






Vermont State Police Case # 20A100827


FIRE INVESTIGATORS: Detective Sergeant Michael LaCourse  - Vermont State Police,
Assistant State Fire Marshal Stan Baranowski - Division of Fire Safety


CONTACT# 802-334-8881


DATE/TIME: 02/17/2020 Approximately 12:50 pm

INCIDENT LOCATION: 261 Country Club Road, Greensboro, Vermont

INCIDENT: Fire Investigation - 20A100827

Homeowner:  George Gowen, Chaddsford, PA



On February, 17, 2020 Greensboro Fire Department responded to 261 Country Club Road for a report of a smoke alarm activation. The fire department was notified by the homeowner's security company as a smoke alarm activation. Upon arrival, firefighters encountered heavy smoke and an active fire in the basement of the two story home.

The homeowner had left the residence approximately 20 minutes prior to the alarm and was also notified by the security company. The homeowner returned home and he and his caretaker arrived just prior to the fire department.

The fire was quickly extinguished and fire damage was limited to one room in the basement. The remainder of the home suffered moderate smoke damage.

As part of his scene assessment, Greensboro Fire Chief David Brochu Jr. contacted the VT Dept of Public Safety Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit for assistance in determining the origin and cause of this fire.

Members of the Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit responded to the scene that afternoon and initiated an origin and cause investigation.  It was determined that the homeowner had left a rechargeable, lithium-ion battery charging in the basement. This battery was the type used to power cordless power tools.  Investigators determined that the battery had a catastrophic failure, most likely due to over-charging, causing it to explode. The exploding battery debris caught other nearby combustibles on fire, which eventually caught structural framing members on fire in the basement.

It is strongly recommended that people monitor any re-chargeable battery device during the charging phase and also follow the manufacturer's recommendations.

This fire is classified as accidental and not considered suspicious.

There were no reported injuries.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Det. Sgt.
Michael LaCourse at the Derby Barracks at 802-334-8881.

Detective Sergeant Michael LaCourse
Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit
Vermont State Police
Troop A - Derby Barracks
35 Crawford Road
Derby, VT

Detective Sergeant Michael LaCourse
Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit
Vermont State Police
Troop A - Derby Barracks
35 Crawford Road
Derby, VT
802-334-8881  (***Please note my email address has changed***)