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Fire investigators conclude inquiry into fatal fire

Cause is deemed 'undetermined' but not suspicious

BRATTLEBORO—Local and state fire investigators ruled the cause of a fatal fire at 3 Record Drive as “undetermined.”

The Brattleboro Fire Department Investigation Team, Brattleboro Police, the Vermont State Police Fire Investigation Unit, and the Vermont Division of Fire Safety completed their investigation Aug. 11.

“It has been concluded that the fire started in a front bedroom, though the cause is undetermined,” Brattleboro Fire Chief Michael Bucossi said. “It is not suspicious.”

An “undetermined” fire means investigators couldn’t pinpoint a fire’s cause beyond a shadow of a doubt, Bucossi explained.

State and local investigators always investigate fires that seem suspicious, or, as in the case of 3 Record Drive, result in injury or death, he said.

According to news releases from the Brattleboro Fire Department, the two-alarm fire on Aug. 8 quickly engulfed the home located in the Mountain Home Park, injuring one resident and killing two. A fourth person escaped the blaze unharmed.

Glen Euber, 42, and Michelle Blake, 52, died in the fire, Bucossi confirmed. Firefighters found Euber and Blake’s bodies on the home’s main floor after extinguishing the fire, he added.

Both bodies were transported to Burlington for autopsies, Bucossi said.

Carroll Paige, 68, and Sean Stolz, 27, who lived in the basement level of the home, escaped, Bucossi said. Stolz received second degree burns to the back of his neck, Bucossi said.

Bucossi added that a dog died in the fire and that two cats are missing. No firefighters were injured, he said.

When firefighters arrived on scene just before midnight, flames engulfed the home.

“The house was on fire end-to-end,” Bucossi said. “It was coming out of both [bedroom] windows and everything in between.”

According to news releases from the Brattleboro Fire Department, the fire’s intensity prevented firefighters from entering the building.

Approximately 20 Brattleboro firefighters brought the fire under control by 1:14 a.m., but the home was destroyed.

Due to the damage, Bucossi said firefighters couldn’t tell if the home had working smoke detectors.

The Keene Fire Department’s Rapid Intervention Team, Rescue Inc, Brattleboro Police, the Brattleboro Department of Public Works, and the Red Cross assisted on site, Bucossi wrote.

The deaths on Aug. 8 mark only the second fatal fire Bucossi has witnessed since becoming fire chief nearly 10 years ago.

In a news release, Bucossi also noted that eight people have died from fire in Vermont this year.

In a phone interview, he warned about the dangers of falling asleep while smoking and noted the importance of working smoke detectors.

“The Brattleboro Fire Department would like to remind and encourage everyone to install and maintain working smoke detectors in all levels of your home,” he wrote. “They provide early warning in the case of a fire to help you escape before it is too late.”

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Originally published in The Commons issue #370 (Wednesday, August 17, 2016). This story appeared on page C4.

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