SOUTH NEWFANE — A Sunday morning fire destroyed a 200-year-old farmhouse on Auger Hole Road. No one was in the house when the blaze broke out, and there were no reported injuries.
Firefighters from nine departments were on the scene, including South Newfane/ Williamsville, Brattleboro, West Dummerston, West Dover, East Dover, Wilmington, Marlboro, Newbrook and Chesterfield, N.H. Personnel from Rescue Inc. were also on hand.
The house is owned by Peter and Tana Lilienthal. The couple and their three daughters were living in a rented house on Dover Road while the farmhouse was being renovated.
According to Peter Lilienthal, his parents bought the house in 1954, when he was a young boy.
“This is my home. This is where I grew up,” he said, as he watched firefighters spray the smoldering remains. “This is really valuable to us.”
Two of the Lilienthal’s teenage daughters stood in the front yard tearfully comforting one another. According to their mother, they grew up spending their summers in the farmhouse.
“Everything in there is from their childhoods,” said Tana, her voiced choked with sadness.
According to Amelia Darrow, owner of Olallie Daylily Garden just across the street from the fire, one of her employees reported hearing an explosion shortly before 9 a.m. They looked at the house but saw nothing.
About 20 minutes later a bicyclists stopped at the gardens to report the fire. It was called in by several neighbors.
The Lilienthals were also contacted. Arriving at the scene before firefighters, the couple found the house in flames.
“We tried to empty the barn. We didn’t dare do anything else,” said Tana Lilienthal.
The barn, which was adjacent but unattached, was not damaged.
Steve Jones, chief of the South Newfane-Williamsville Department and commander of Sunday’s fire, said the blaze started in the basement. By the time firefighters reached the scene, however, the fire had spread.
“When we first arrived the first floor and part of the second floor were fully involved,” he said.
There was a propane furnace in the basement, which Jones, speculated was the culprit. He added, however, that the cause wouldn’t be definitely known until an investigation was completed by the Vermont State Police.