Investigators: Propane weeding torch ignited Williamstown fire

WILLIAMSTOWN, Vt. (WCAX) Investigators say a fire Tuesday afternoon at a Williamstown storage business was caused by a worker flame weeding in the area. The blaze left many people on Wednesday to sort through their burned belongings and wonder how to cover their loss.

Tammy Simon spent her Wednesday searching through her family's storage unit looking to salvage what she can.

"Our antiques -- things my great-great-grandfather hand built for the family and it's gone, and it's devastating," Simon said.

And she is not alone. "My pictures -- I am going to see if I can save those," said Tonya Twofoot of Granitville.

Investigators say the fire started when a construction worker from Barre paving contractor Fresh Coat used a propane torch to remove weeds. The fire spread and caused significant damage to about 60 storage units. Jay Carr says he just bought Bridge Street Storage last week. He's frustrated and says the construction was part of adding new features and improving the storage units.

"I was trying to make the facility a better facility -- put in a new camera system, security system," he said.

But those salvaging what they could are asking what's next.

Reporter Ike Bendavid: Did you have insurance?
Tonya Twofoot: No.

"I have insurance, but I know it's going to be a fight to get anything and everything covered," Simon said.

"Well, storage units in themselves are a challenge anyways," said Deb Lawson with Denis, Ricker, and Brown Insurance. She's been working in home insurance for over two decades and says the owner of the property covers the insurance of the building itself. When it comes to the actual units and what's inside, that's different. "The individual units -- when you rent a unit that's a personal exposure. That's a homeowner's exposure."

Lawson says that both renters and home insurance cover storage units. In this case she says there is hope for those who don't have insurance as this fire was started by a third party, Fresh Coat.

"If they don't have their own coverage, they don't have a first go to, they would have to file a claim under the third party's insurance," Lawson said.

"From what I am understanding, because this was a contractor -- like the fire was started because of the contactor -- that it should go under his insurance," Carr said.

As both renters and Carr wait to hear back from insurance, Carr says that those who were up to date on their payments will get their security deposits back and those who owed money will not