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Video: Six-Bay Garage Destroyed by Fire in Hartland

  • A Windsor firefighter battles a garage fire in Hartland, Vt., on Jan. 31, 2017. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Windsor firefighter Devon Campney carries a hose during a garage fire in Hartland, Vt., on Jan. 31, 2017. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Hartland — Fire consumed a six-bay garage in a matter of minutes on Tuesday night, taking with it a snowmobile, a car, a Jeep body and about $70,000 in tools, according to the tenant who utilized a good portion of the space.

Mark Herschel said he remembers tinkering with the antique sled in the garage shortly before 5:30 p.m.

When he went in to his nearby log cabin to have dinner, he saw a glow out his window. A portion of the garage was up in flames.

He grabbed a fire extinguisher and tried to snuff them out, but the situation quickly spiraled out of control.

“I don’t know how I am going to replace everything,” Herschel said, noting there was upward of $100,000 in valuables as well as other household items in the garage.

He doesn’t have renters insurance, nor does he or anyone else have full-coverage insurance on most of the items that were destroyed, he said.

Fortunately, everyone was OK, his nephew Travis Herschel said in between pacing around the property at 38 Ferry Road on Tuesday night.

“It’s just stuff,” he said, trailing off.

The Hartland Fire Department was dispatched to the scene at 5:29 p.m. for a reported structure fire.

Fire trucks from several towns raced up and down back roads, trucking water toward the garage and dumping it into a portable water tank. The nearest water supply was on the other side of the train tracks, so for a short while, officials were forced to shut down the tracks to safely transport the water in, Hartland Fire Chief John Sanders said.

Shortly after officials reopened the tracks, a train blew through.

Most of the flames had been knocked down by 6:45 p.m., and firefighters awaited an excavator so they could pull apart the rubble and extinguish hot spots.

Sanders said he wasn’t planning on calling in a fire investigator; although it isn’t exactly clear what caused the fire, the blaze appears to have started near the snowmobile, Sanders said.

In this situation, “an investigation won’t tell us too much,” he said. The garage is a total loss.

The Herschels, along with several other family members, rent the log cabin and have use of the garage. They lease from Matt Dow of D&D Excavating, Sanders said.

Part of Dow’s business sits only a few hundred yards away. His large garages on Ferry Road, as well as nearby PCG Machine Shop’s garage, were unaffected by the fire.

The Herschels have lived in that location for about two years, they said.

Mark Herschel, who works at Portland Glass in West Lebanon, said he also is a part-time mechanic. Most of his tools were in the garage.

“The loss of my tools ... ,” he said. “I can’t even begin to tell you.”

He also struggled to talk about the loss of his motorcycle, which was one of the few items with insurance coverage.

The fact that he likely would receive some cash for it didn’t afford him much comfort, he said. The bike, a 2009 Yamaha Raider, had a lot of love put into it and was complete with a custom paint job.

About 90 minutes after the fire, the “what if’s” started to set in to Herschel’s mind.

The fire started at one end of the six-bay garage; his motorcycle was at the other.

“If I could have done it differently, I would have got that bike out,” he said.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.

Correction

The Herschel family said they lost tens of thousands of dollars in vehicles and tools in a fire Tuesday at a garage in Hartland where they are tenants. A photo caption in Wednesday’s Valley News incorrectly described who lost possessions in the fire.