WESTMINSTER — Arson investigators from the Vermont State Police are asking for help from the public in finding the culprit behind a series of suspicious fires in Windham County over the past few weeks.
Detective Sgt. Matthew Hill of the State Police's Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit (FEIU) said in a news release that his unit is working with the Putney and Marlboro fire departments in an investigation of six fires that have taken place within Windham County since Oct. 2:
• An abandoned mobile home, vehicle, and boat at 19 Shag Bark Hill in Putney were destroyed by fire during the afternoon of Oct. 2. Hill said the fire is considered to be the result of direct human involvement and is under investigation.
• A fire in a vehicle at Rod's Service, 40 Main St., Putney, on Oct. 9 was discovered by a person traveling home from work at 1:30 a.m. Hill said the fire destroyed the business, which had been in operation since the mid 1960s, and left more than a dozen people without work. The loss is expected to be in excess of $500,000, and Hill says it remains under investigation.
• On Oct. 9 on Bunker Hill Road in East Dummerston, a homeowner discovered that a chair he had placed at the end of his driveway near the road had been set on fire overnight.
• On Oct. 15 on Town Hill Road in Marlboro, firefighters were dispatched to an evening fire at a vacant building. Hill said the fire was determined to be the result of direct human involvement and is under investigation.
• On Oct. 22, at 5 p.m., the Marlboro Fire Department was dispatched to a reported structure fire at an abandoned motel on Route 9. Hill said that the fire at the former Golden Eagle Motel was determined to be the result of direct human involvement and is under investigation.
“FEIU investigators are following up on a number of tips received from the public about these cases,” Hill said. “Investigators are working to determine which, if any, of the fires are or may be connected.”
Investigators are asking anyone with information about these fire events to contact the Vermont State Police in Westminster at 802-722-4600. Tips may be submitted anonymously by texting keyword VTIPS to 274637 (CRIMES). Tips may also be submitted online at vsp.vermont.gov/tipsubmit.
People with information may also contact the Vermont Arson Tip Award Program at 800-32-ARSON. The program is a separate entity from the state police; through funding from insurance companies, it offers a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest.