Down trees spark a house fire in Middlebury

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MIDDLEBURY, Vt. (WCAX) Investigators believe Monday's storm caused a house fire on Happy Valley Road in Middlebury early Wednesday morning.

"I woke up at about 4 a.m. and smelt smoke," said Martin Beatty. Through a thick cloud of smoke, the Middlebury homeowner says he saw embers shooting out from his pellet stove, eventually sparking a fire in the sunroom.

After crews arrived on scene they contained the flames, but not before it ripped a hole through Beatty's living room.

The family of four lost power during Monday's wind storm and had been using a generator and pellet stove to keep warm. "It was quite a storm. It's had quite an effect on us," Beatty said.

Uprooted trees crushed two of their cars and another landed on power lines connected to their house. And if that wasn't enough, the fire broke out 48 hours later. "The power lines pulled on our pellet stove pipe and caused separation and that separation lead to some of the embers coming out of the pipe and into the house," Beatty said.

Firefighters acted fast, but say they were not shocked that this happened. "As we start to re-energize the grid -- start to get houses back online -- some electrical damage that had happened during the storm will now start to surface," said Middlebury Fire Chief David Shaw.

With thousands of Vermonters still cleaning up, Chief Shaw has a recommendation: "Look for anything that looks out of order, any branches down on the wire or branches against the house," he said.

Officials say there is some damage to the outside of the home, but they are still evaluating the total damage.