Updated: House destroyed in late night fire

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NORTH POWNAL — A resident was driven from his French Hill Road home shortly before midnight Sunday by a blaze that heavily damaged his two-story house and also damaged two nearby structures.

The state Department of Public Safety and Explosion Investigation Unit of Vermont State Police issued a release late Monday reporting that the home of Wendell Taylor, 40, of 24 French Hill, was considered a total loss.

According to the release from Detective Senior Sgt. Tom Williams and Assistant State Fire Marshal Josh Maxham, the homeowner was awoken by heavy smoke and noticed fire glow in the upper left side of the rear of the furnace. 

Taylor ran out with his dog to a neighbor’s home to call the fire department, according to the release. When he returned, the fire had spread to the rest of the woodframe home.

An investigation showed that the fire originated in the area of the furnace room. The cause was classified as undetermined pending further forensic examination of the furnace, but the fire is not considered suspicious, according to the release.

Taylor’s home was not insured.   

When North Pownal firefighters arrived, they encountered a two-story structure with flames showing on both levels. Once the blaze was under control, Pownal Valley Fire Department Chief Jason Olansky contacted the Department of Public Safety Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit for assistance with the cause determination. 

The firefighters also later responded back to the scene when the blaze rekindled. An excavator was used to assist in extinguishing hot spots.

Several mutual aid departments assisted with the scene in frigid temperatures. Assisting departments included the Bennington Fire Department, the Williamstown Fire Department, Bennington Rural Fire, and the Hoosick Fire Department. The Petersburgh (N.Y.) Fire Department provided a tanker truck and Northern Berkshire EMS provided a rehab unit.  

Anyone with any information regarding the fire is asked to contact Williams at 802-773-9101.

The Department of Public Safety Fire and Explosion Unit recommends all homes be equipped with smoke detectors and CO detectors on all floor levels. 


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