Fire destroys Windsor home; woman rescued through window

  • A chimney remains standing at a house fire in Windsor, Vt., on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. The home, at 2628 Route 44, was destroyed. Two people lived in the home, according to a neighbor. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News — Jennifer Hauck

  • Firefighters spray water on a single-family home in Windsor, Vt., on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. Departments from Windsor, West Windsor, Hartland, Claremont and other locations responded to the scene. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News — Jennifer Hauck

  • Ascutney Fire Capt. Derek Gurney drains a water bottle at the scene of a structure fire in Windsor, Vt., on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. At left is firefighter Paul MacDonald, also from the Ascutney department, having his vitals checked by Glen Gardner of Golden Cross Ambulance. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/17/2021 9:33:45 PM
Modified: 9/17/2021 9:33:52 PM

WINDSOR — First responders rescued a 75-year-old Windsor woman through her living room window Friday afternoon after she was trapped by a two-alarm fire that destroyed the single-family home along Route 44.

The woman, Suzanne Skuja, suffered serious smoke inhalation and was taken to Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center. Her brother, Claremont resident Donald Taylor, who co-owns the home with his sister, said Friday evening he was trying to get information about her condition. Taylor was out of town but learned about the fire from his wife.

Skuja and Taylor grew up in the ranch house at 2628 Route 44, just west of Estey Lane and the former Sitzmark Ski Shop; their father, former Windsor police chief Thomas Taylor, built the home about 55 years ago.

Gail Britton, a neighbor, said she looked out her bedroom window and saw flames from what she and others at the scene called a garage (a photo of the home from before the fire shows it to be a carport with room for two cars and other equipment, and Taylor also said it was a carport).

“I looked out and the whole garage was just in flames, and the black smoke was going up,” Britton said. She said she heard two mini-explosions and saw Skuja’s husband, Uldis Skuja, come out of the carport, where a lone car was parked.

Uldis Skuja was also taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation, she said.

Fire officials confirmed the two residents of the house were taken to the hospital, but said they did not have their names to release.

Windsor Fire Lt. Dana Wright, who helped rescue the woman from the house, said the garage was fully engulfed when he arrived. He and another firefighter entered the home, and along with a Windsor police officer helped carry her through a window at the center of the house.

“We had a patient that was leaning out a window and we went in and did the quick extraction to get the patient out of the house,” Wright said.

One firefighter and the police officer went to the nearby Windsor hospital with smoke inhalation, officials said.

Malisa Williams, spokeswoman for the Windsor Fire Department, said the fire was called in at 4:16 p.m. The cause remains under investigation, but officials said it started in the garage.

“The garage was fully involved and it was spreading into the front of the house, which is the kitchen, and one of the victims was being removed out the window,” Williams said. She said the woman “was alert and talking when we transported her, but she had pretty significant smoke inhalation.”

Donald Taylor said his sister is a retired nurse. In a 2017 Valley News story about the former National Guard armory on Ascutney Street in Windsor, the Skujas said they’d had their wedding reception there 50 years ago.

Wright, the Windsor fire lieutenant, said fighting the fire required water to be hauled in from hydrants in downtown Windsor. “The location was a little bit tough,” he said.

Fire crews were still hosing down a fire in the basement of the home around 6:15 p.m.

Firefighters from West Windsor; Ascutney; Hartland; Springfield, Vt.; Reading; Claremont; Cornish; and West Weathersfield all assisted Windsor at the scene.

John P. Gregg can be reached at or 603-727-3217.

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