A fire that started Monday morning in Ascutney Vermont has destroyed the Yankee Village Motel on Route 5. Authorities initially said the fire may have started from a brush fire around 10:30 AM that spread behind the building, but was considered suspicious shortly after.
During a statement to press around 2:45, the Ascutney Fire Chief announced that the fire was started by an unidentified child playing with a lighter behind the building which began as a brush fire. By the time crews responded, it had spread to three motel rooms. The child later approached the chief and told him he had started the fire accidentally.
There were several occupants inside at the time of the blaze, including the owners, but they were all evacuated safely and no injuries were reported. Authorities deemed the fire “under control” shortly after 3:00, as firefighters continued to clean up. A portion of Route 5 was closed while fire crews battled the blaze and drivers had to seek alternate routes.
Smoke could be seen from miles away and had drifted across the Connecticut River to Route 12A, which drivers used as a detour.
Route 5 was anticipated to be open to drivers by 8 Monday night. Residents of nearby Windsor reported losing power briefly this morning when the fire was reported and the nearby Weathersfield School also lost power and the school was locked down and was in the process of sending students home for the day.
The Ascutney Fire Chief said that the brush fire in the back spread in the other direction as well, burning all the way back to Martin Street. Crews from every surrounding town responded to the blaze, including Claremont, Windsor, Plainfield, Ludlow, South Woodstock, West Weathersfield, Cornish, Reading, and others. Tanker trucks used a hydrant near the Sweet Water Hydroelectric dam on Plains Road in Claremont to fill up with water and deliver it to Ascutney.
There have been no public remarks from the owners as of yet. The fire spread quickly because of the extremely dry conditions this time of year, known as brush fire season, and today’s fire serves as another reminder to not conduct any sort of outdoor burning with the high fire chance.