Ed Wheeler, who lived in the 19th century farmhouse located at 3122 County Route 21 with his wife Ann, daughter Jessica and two grandsons, said the house was a complete loss.
“The one good part was we were all awake when the smoke was spotted and we got out without a scratch, but the same can’t be said of the house,” Wheeler said.
The fire was reported at 10:20 p.m. on Sunday and quickly engulfed the home.
“We were horrified when we saw it getting worse and worse,” Wheeler said. “The fire started at the south end of the house and there was a south win that blew the fire into the rest of the home.”
Firefighters from the Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company remained on scene battling the fire until 5 a.m. on Monday and firefighters from North Granville, Hampton, Fort Ann, Poultney, Vt. and Fair Haven, Vt. provided mutual aid.
The fire rekindled around 7:30 a.m. and firefighters returned to the scene and were there until 9:30 a.m.
Jessica Wheeler, a nurse at Glens Falls Hospital, had just returned home when she spotted smoke coming through a grate on the second floor.
“We were right next to the woodstove and there no sign of any problems,” Ed Wheeler said.
The family quickly evacuated the home and moved their cars away from the structure as flames engulfed the home.
The cause of the fire had yet to be determined by Tuesday afternoon, but it appears to have started as a chimney fire that worked its way into the rest of the home. Because of the home’s age—it was built in 1850—and the “balloon” style construction, the fire spread rapidly. Firefighters used nearly 40,000 gallons of water to suppress the fire.
Wheeler said most of the family’s belongings were lost in the fire.
“Anything above ground line was vaporized,” he said. “We didn’t even remove our wallets.”
Wheeler, who owns and operates Fidelity Hearing Aid Center in Rutland, Vt., said he lost a bunch of equipment related to the business.
He said neighbors and community members were there to lend a helping hand almost immediately after the fire.
The family stayed with neighbors David and Shelley Roop and a number of local churches and community groups have donated winter clothing.
“Friends and neighbors have done a lot,” Wheeler said. “Everyone is pitching in.”
He said the family’s focus was on getting the kids back in school and getting his business back up and running by next week.
He said the family will is examining living arrangements but will not rebuild.
“We’re going to take a couple of days to make a strategy and determine what to do next,” Wheeler said.
The Truthville and Adamsville Baptist Churches will be accepting donations of clothing and money if anyone who would like to help. They can be dropped off at either church at any time.