Home News and Features rk Miles Fire Not Suspicious, Police Say, But They Seek  Photos and...

rk Miles Fire Not Suspicious, Police Say, But They Seek  Photos and Videos

State fire investigators and Montpelier fire officials, including Chief Robert Gowans, inspect the aftermath of a two-alarm blaze at the rk Miles lumberyard in Montpelier Thursday morning, Nov. 2, 2023. Photo by John Lazenby.
Just a few months after torrential rains flooded rk Miles in Barre this July, a two-alarm blaze Wednesday night, Nov. 1, destroyed the rk Miles lumberyard and its inventory in Montpelier.

So far, investigators have uncovered no evidence to indicate the blaze is suspicious according to police and the Montpelier Fire Department. The origin of the fire is undetermined, they said in a statement released this afternoon, and no injuries were reported.

An investigation by the Vermont Division of Fire Safety and the Vermont State Police started today, but Montpelier Fire Chief Robert Gowans said it could take weeks for a final report. Although the Montpelier Fire Department lost a fire engine, Gowans emphasized that no one was hurt in the fire. He spoke to The Bridge backdropped by smoking black rubble and twisted metal roofing, all that remained of the lumber yard’s storage sheds. Gowans had arrived at the scene at 6:18 p.m. Wednesday, he said, and hadn’t left by 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2.

A woman cleaning the rk Miles showroom and office building may have been the first person to notice the fire. The Bridge spoke to her minutes after she’d left the building out the back door, leaving her coat and belongings outside. She said she had been vacuuming when the fire started. 

The Montpelier Fire Department had a crew on scene within four minutes of the many calls that came in that Wednesday at 6:14 p.m., all of them reporting that the lumber yard at 707 Stone Cutters Way was engulfed in flames, according to the release. 

“Suddenly shifting winds pushed the flames in the direction of the fire engine, forcing firefighters to evacuate,” the release said. “The engine was a total loss.”

 About 45 firefighters were able to save the rk Miles offices and the adjacent Hunger Mountain Co-op, as well as the nearby Clothespin factory building on Granite Street. Heat from the fire melted the vinyl siding on a nearby Downstreet residential building across the road from the blaze. 

Fire departments from Barre City, Barre Town, Berlin, East Montpelier, Northfield, Waterbury and Worcester were on hand to help Montpelier firefighters and Gowans said Plainfield firefighters staffed the station while the Montpelier team was down at Stone Cutters Way..

The release, from the Vermont Department of Public Safety, the Vermont State Police, the Montpelier Fire Department, and the Montpelier Police Department asked that anyone who has photos, video or information about the fire contact Vermont State Police Detective Sgt. Christopher Blais at the Royalton Barracks at 802-234-9933 or christopher.blais@vermont.gov, or Montpelier Police Detective Sgt. Jeff Pearson at 802-223-3445 or jpearson@montpelier-vt.org.

People with information can also contact the Vermont Arson Tip Award Program at 800-32-ARSON. The Arson Tip Award Program is a separate entity from the Vermont State Police, and through funding from insurance companies offers a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest.

The photos below are by John Lazenby. See more photos of the fire on his website.