"Our whole life was in that house," Kaysie Breer said.
A Barre Town family watched in disbelief as their log home burned before their eyes. The blaze broke out just before 9 a.m. Wednesday. The homeowners had just left to get their four kids off to day care and school. They returned home to a nightmare.
"I made it to the bottom of the stairs and the smoke was very heavy," Damian Barnett said. "I turned the corner, there were flames, so I used as much of the fire extinguisher as I could and then I started choking and had to run out the front door or the basement door."
Crews from six fire departments tried to contain the smoke billowing from the windows. It was a battle they eventually lost.
"It started in the basement, worked its way up through. Took out the floors early on, so we were unable to do any interior firefighting at that point. We were doing all external," Barre Town Fire Chief Chris Violette said.
Three hours after the blaze broke out the chief said the fire was trapped beneath the roof, making it unsafe for his firefighters to continue fighting it. The only option was to call in an excavator. It was news that brought Barnett to his knees. Three years ago he built the log cabin himself, with dreams of one day retiring there. A life plan that went up in smoke one month before Christmas.
"You don't think about anything. You don't about the belongings. People say that's what you think about, but you don't," Barnett said. "I never once thought about going to grab a picture of the kids."
Now, the only family photos this couple has left are the ones on their cellphones. And they say the hardest part of this ordeal is yet to come.
"My issue right now is the fact that we have to still tell the kids and I'm not sure how we're going to do this," Breer said. "It's a month before Christmas and now we have no home."
The one silver lining-- no one was hurt. Hand in hand, the couple watched as an excavator freed the trapped smoke, taking just minutes to wreck what took them years to build.
"We have to rebuild the house for the kids," Barnett said.
"We have to start over," Breer said.
"That's what the important thing is," Barnett agreed. "They have no home."
The couple says they were able to get their two dogs out safely, but they fear their cat may have died in the fire. Officials still aren't sure what sparked the blaze.
Donations can be sent to:
Barnett Family Recovery 68 Woodland Dr. Barre, VT 05641
Tuesday, December 10 2013 11:41 AM EST2013-12-10 16:41:55 GMT
St. Albans police are on the hunt for an armed robber who targeted a convenience store. Police say at about 9:45 p.m. Monday, a man entered the South Main Grocery and displayed a weapon. He left the storeMore >>
St. Albans police are on the hunt for an armed robber who targeted a convenience store.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 12:57 PM EST2013-12-10 17:57:59 GMT
Police in Essex say they caught a repeat drunk driver who was trying to drive his car with a flat tire. Michael Heffernan, 52, of Bristol, was processed for his sixth DUI offense. Police say before theyMore >>
Police in Essex say they caught a repeat drunk driver who was trying to drive his car with a flat tire.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 9:40 AM EST2013-12-10 14:40:06 GMT
A former New Hampshire police chief will not face criminal charges. David Seastrand resigned in April after four women came forward and accused him of inappropriate actions ranging from sexual contactMore >>
A former New Hampshire police chief will not face criminal charges.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 1:13 PM EST2013-12-10 18:13:54 GMT
Burlington police on Tuesday released the name of a man killed Monday in a crash on the Beltline. Police say Gregory Burt, 56, of Colchester, was driving north when he crossed into the path of a southboundMore >>
Burlington police on Tuesday released the name of a man killed Monday in a crash on the Beltline.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 9:42 AM EST2013-12-10 14:42:57 GMT
A non-profit group has donated close to $23,000 worth of protective vests to police dogs in Vermont and New Hampshire. The special vests provide two dozen police dogs protection from both bullet and stabMore >>
A nonprofit group has donated close to $23,000 worth of protective vests to police dogs in Vermont and New Hampshire.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 1:15 PM EST2013-12-10 18:15:12 GMT
A new twist in a lawsuit against a Vermont ski resort. A Massachusetts family say their 5-year-old was taking skiing lessons when a snowboard instructor, William Vincent of Montgomery, slammed into herMore >>
A new twist in a lawsuit against a Vermont ski resort.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 1:08 PM EST2013-12-10 18:08:27 GMT
The Virginia pastor convicted in federal court in Vermont of helping a woman and her child flee the country rather than share custody with her former lesbian partner says the case should be dismissed because it had...More >>
The Virginia pastor convicted in federal court in Vermont of helping a woman and her child flee the country rather than share custody with her former lesbian partner says the case should be dismissed because it had no...More >>