Lightning suspected as cause
POULTNEY — Friday, On July 1, at 11:49 p.m. a motion sensor alarm went off at the Discount Food Store of Poultney at 298 E. Main Street in Poultney. The owner of the store, Russell Merrill, age 60, of Poultney, Vt., was notified by the alarm company and responded immediately, according to the police report. He arrived only a few minutes later to find smoke coming from the roof line of the store and the glass to the main door broken out. Merrill dialed 911 to report the fire and the Poultney Fire Department responded within 13 minutes of the call.
Upon arrival firefighters found the building filled with smoke, but no fire showing. As they entered the smoke-filled structure they could hear and feel the heat of the fire above them between the roof and the drop ceiling. They immediately left the building just prior to its flashing over with fire.
On July 2, at 1:30 a.m. Chief Aaron Kerber of the Poultney Fire Department contacted the State Police and Division of Fire Safety to request an origin and cause investigation. The fire investigators arrived on scene at first light to begin their investigation, but had to wait as the fire fighters continued to battle several hot spots inside the 6,200-square-foot cement block building. The roof of the store had collapsed inside and was covering several of the rooms, making it difficult to extinguish the blaze, police reported.
An excavator was brought in to dig out the hotspots under the several feet of charred rubble. Once the building was cooled down a fire investigation was conducted. Based on the statements from nearby neighbors, and a STRIKE.net report it is believed lightning may have played a major role in causing the fire. The continues to be under investigation, but is not considered suspicious.
Anyone with information regarding the fire is asked to please contact Detective Sargent Todd Ambroz of the Vermont State Police at 802-878-7111.