By Brooke Geery
On Feb. 6 at 11:06 a.m. a 911 call was received regarding a snowmobile fire on the River Road Covered Bridge on Veilleux Road in Troy, a small town on the Vermont/Quebec border. Several local fire departments responded, and the Troy Fire Chief, Robert Jacobs, contacted the Dept. of Public Safety Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit for an origin and cause investigation.
The investigation revealed a group of snowmobilers were traveling across the bridge when one of the snowmobiles broke down mid-bridge.
The operator noticed there was fire coming from the right side of the snowmobile and attempted to put it out by throwing snow on it. He also attempted to remove the machine from the bridge, melting his gloves and burning his hands slightly, but his efforts were for naught.
The fire continued to grow out of control until it eventually caught the wood frame covered bridge on fire, too.
The bridge burned to the point it collapsed into the Missisquoi River and is no longer able to be driven across.
The 111-year-old lattice-style truss bridge was built in 1910, and placed on the Nation Register of Historic Places in 1974. It was the only surviving covered bridge in Troy from the historic period of covered bridge construction.
Troy Town Clerk Terri Medley said town officials met Monday, Feb. 8, to discuss the first step of safely and properly removing the debris. Then they will make a plan to rebuild the bridge, as it is the only crossing for vehicles over the river for miles; however, the timeline is unclear.
“Most of us are hoping it’s a covered bridge,” Medley said. “Everybody wants to see it rebuilt.”
It is not yet clear what funds might be available to build another covered bridge.
Anyone that has information regarding this fire or circumstances around it is asked to please contact Det. Sgt. Todd Ambroz of the FEIU at 802-878-7111 or by email at [email protected] .