Mike Furno spent Wednesday morning directing traffic on Vershire Center Road as fire crews attempted to put out the flames at his neighbor's house. The building torched by the owner's ex-husband.
"I had no idea at all. My dogs weren't even barking, so I was pretty surprised," Furno said.
Shortly before 7 a.m., a volunteer firefighter spotted the blaze, knocked on Furno's door and told him to call 911.
"I stayed with 911 for awhile and kind of talked them through what was going on," Furno said.
Police found Collin Barry, 53, collapsed on the lawn outside the home. The man had a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head and burns on portions of his body. Arson investigators determined Barry lit his ex's home on fire before going into the bedroom where he turned the gun on himself.
"We're conducting both an investigation into that and an investigation into the fire simultaneously," Vt. State Police Lt. Jim Cruise said.
It took multiple fire crews to knock down the blaze. Police would not comment on a motive, but did say Barry was the only one injured.
"The male victim was the only one found on the premises and was the only one reported to be at the premises. The homeowner was no longer here," Cruise said.
When fire crews arrived on the scene, the home was fully engulfed in flames. In the end, more than three-quarters of the home was reduced to rubble. Damages are hovering around $100,000 and the home is considered a complete loss. Police say despite his injuries, Barry was alert and talking to EMTs on the scene. He was quickly airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Furno helped the medical helicopter land in a nearby field and says he's shocked by the entire incident.
"It was stressful. A neighbor, you know, somebody you care about. It was just a situation where you wonder what's going on," Furno said.
Barry has since been transferred to a Boston-area hospital for burn treatment. Arson investigators expect criminal charges to be filed against him.
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