Investigators say Stowe arsonist follows clear patterns

Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 4:56 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A series of arson fires in Stowe over the last five years is prompting federal authorities and Vermont police to offer a reward for help leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible.

Florist Ute Beede is happy to be back at work. At the start of 2019, a suspicious fire burned her business, Uncle George’s Flowers, to the ground. “My husband called the police department and they said it’s not the porch, it’s the whole building,” Beede said.

After the fire, Beede moved her business next door after being closed for 5 months. “It was just rubble,” she said.

That suspicious fire is just one of 14 that officials say have hit Stowe since 2015, the latest coming in early September. Town leaders believe they were intentionally set and that they are connected. “It’s very frustrating, we are very concerned about the community,” said Stowe Town Manager Charles Safford.

Some of the fires have been small dumpster fires, while others have destroyed buildings. Most of the destruction has been to businesses, with the most recent at Stowe Cable Systems.

“All very suspicious. Some of them have had a particular way that they have been set,” said Vermont State Police Detective Sgt. Todd Ambroz.

Multiple agencies have been working on the investigation including the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ATF, the state police, and Stowe authorities

“We have searched high and low and done so many things to try to mitigate this problem,” Ambroz said. To help put an end to the arson spree, he says authorities are offering a $30,000 reward for help that leads to an arrest and conviction. “There is not a day that goes by that this hasn’t caused me anxiety.”

“We are hoping that somebody knows something, and if you do know something, please call us so we can try to end these fires before any more property is damaged, and we don’t want anyone to get hurt,” said Stowe Police Chief Donald Hull.

So far, nobody has been injured, but Beede hopes other people don’t have to rebuild as she did. “I just hope they catch that person and he never does it to another person again,” she said.

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