Cause of Derby house fire determined

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The Department of Public Safety, Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit investigated a fire at 190 Main Street in Derby Center.  The fire occurred in a single-family home that was used as an Air BnB and was occupied by three individuals.   The occupants were not home at the time of the fire. 

The fire was noticed by a passerby around 18:20 Friday evening and when firefighters arrived, they found heavy fire on the side and front porch.  Firefighters used hose lines to quickly extinguish the fire on the porch and were successful in limiting the fires extension into the house.  The fire extended into void spaces in the roof and wall areas making it difficult to completely extinguish.  The home sustained significant damage to the front and side porch and smoke and heat damage to the interior.

The Derby Line Fire Department was assisted at the scene by the Newport City Fire Department.

Derby Line Fire Chief Craig Ellam contacted the Department of Public Safety, Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit, to demine the area of origin and the cause.   The investigation concluded that the fire began on the side porch in a sitting area where there was a table and chairs.  The cause of the fire was smoking materials placed in an aluminum beverage can.   The cause will be listed as accidental.

There were no injuries.  The house did not have working smoke or CO alarms.  I found the bases where the alarms had been, but no alarms.

It is important that all homes have working smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarms located on all floors, and in each sleeping area.

Smoke outside. Many things in your home can catch on fire if they touch something hot like a cigarette or ashes. It is always safer to smoke outside.

Put cigarettes out all the way. Do this every time. Don’t walk away from lit cigarettes and other smoking materials. Put water on the ashes and butts to make sure they are out before you put them in the trash.

Be alert. Do not smoke after taking medicine that makes you tired. You may not be able to prevent or escape from a fire if you are sleepy or have taken medicine that makes you tired.

Never smoke around medical oxygen. Medical oxygen can explode if a flame or spark is near. Even if the oxygen is turned off, it can still catch on fire.

Never smoke in bed. Mattresses and bedding can catch on fire easily. Do not smoke in bed because you might fall asleep with a lit cigarette.

Put your cigarette out in an ashtray or bucket with sand. Use ashtrays with a wide base so they won’t tip over and start a fire.

Between 2012-2016, an estimated annual average of 18,100 reported home structure fires were started by smoking materials.  These fires killed an average of 590 people annually and injured 1,130.  Fires started by smoking materials caused $476 million in direct property damage annually.


Incident                                               Fire Investigation – Derby, Vermont

Case Number:                                                 19A503654

FIRE INVESTIGATORS:                         Assistant State Fire Marshal Paul Cerutti DPS, Detective Sergeant Steve Otis VSP

DIVISION OF FIRE SAFETY OFFICE:      Barre Regional Office

CONTACT:                                           Paul Cerutti 802-777-0473

DATE/TIME:                                        September 13, 2019 at approximately 18:20

INCIDENT LOCATION:                                     190 Main Street Derby Center, Vermont

INCIDENT TYPE:                                  Residential structure fire

Homeowners:                                      Chad Worcester Anchorage, Alaska

Tenants:                                              David George, Lolita George Goose Creek, South Carolina

                                                            Allen George, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


Paul Cerutti CFI, CFEI

Assistant State Fire Marshal / Fire and Explosion Investigator

Proboard Certified Fire Investigator


Department of Public Safety

Division of Fire Safety

1311 US Route 302 Suite 500

Barre, VT 05641-7301


Pager 802-240-2757

Cell 802-777-0473

Web page

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