"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
Thursday, December 5 2013 1:13 AM EST2013-12-05 06:13:43 GMT
One Georgia man is going all-out to light up his home for Christmas this year. For J.R. Adams, decorating his home elaborately with lights, music, and Santa Claus on a motorcycle is a childhood dream come true. "IMore >>
One Georgia man is going all-out to light up his home for Christmas this year.More >>
Thursday, December 5 2013 1:13 AM EST2013-12-05 06:13:06 GMT
Vermont State Police need your help to find a hit and run driver. They say Wednesday afternoon an older model red Subaru wagon driving north on Route 14 in Williamstown crossed into oncoming traffic, enteredMore >>
Vermont State Police need your help to find a hit and run driver.More >>
Thursday, December 5 2013 1:12 AM EST2013-12-05 06:12:17 GMT
Santa is looking for a few helpers to brighten the holidays for senior citizens across our region. Home Instead Senior Care is collecting gifts as part of its "Be a Santa to a Senior Program." The group'sMore >>
Santa is looking for a few helpers to brighten the holidays for senior citizens across our region.More >>
Thursday, December 5 2013 1:11 AM EST2013-12-05 06:11:32 GMT
The battle over a new methadone clinic in South Burlington continues. Wednesday night the South Burlington School board voted to pursue an appeal with the state supreme court to keep the clinic away fromMore >>
The battle over a new methadone clinic in South Burlington continues.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 8:05 PM EST2013-12-05 01:05:10 GMT
Burlington's deputy police chief is off the hook on drunk driving charges after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors Wednesday.More >>
Burlington's deputy police chief took a plea deal Wednesday, and then announced his retirement. The plea gets Andi Higbee off the hook for drunk driving, but the resolution of the case also ends his 24-year career with the BPD.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 9:45 AM EST2013-12-04 14:45:58 GMT
Police are looking for two Massachusetts men in connection with an assault and robbery in Burlington's South End. It happened Tuesday afternoon on Marble Ave. Investigators say Bryan Frazier, 30, and Rashad Sabree,More >>
Police are looking for two Massachusetts men in connection with an assault and robbery in Burlington's South End.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 9:31 AM EST2013-12-04 14:31:50 GMT
An accused murderer has fired his investigator. Dennis Tribble was convicted of murder twice. The 63-year-old Vermont man was convicted of shooting and killing Michael Borello in 2000. But the VermontMore >>
An accused murderer has fired his investigator.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 6:24 PM EST2013-12-04 23:24:21 GMT
He's already in jail accused of burglaries, now a Lamoille County man is facing more charges. Police say Joshua Loura is now linked to three break-ins in Wolcott and Johnson. He was already accused ofMore >>
He's already in jail accused of burglaries, now a Lamoille County man is facing more charges.More >>