South Royalton family loses home in weekend blaze

Erica Brinkman, left, looks on as her boyfriend Evan Burnham, second from left, gets a hug from his second cousin Dean Morgan, second from right, outside the remains of his home in Royalton, Vt., on Saturday, March 30, 2024. Royalton Firefighter Larry Stewart returns to his truck at right. Burnham discovered the fire and called the fire department to the Broad Brook Road home he shares with Brinkman at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. They both escaped uninjured. Fire Chief Paul Brock said that the building was already starting to collapse when he arrived and is a total loss. “Fifteen minutes from the time we were on scene, the house was in the basement,” he said. The fire originated in a utility room, according Burnham, and spread fast through the open floor plan, accelerated by windy conditions. Fire departments from Sharon, Barnard, East Barnard, Tunbridge, Bethel and Hartford provided mutual aid. Burnham said his uncle built the home in 2005, and he bought it eight years ago to keep the property in the family. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Erica Brinkman, left, looks on as her boyfriend Evan Burnham, second from left, gets a hug from his second cousin Dean Morgan, second from right, outside the remains of his home in Royalton, Vt., on Saturday, March 30, 2024. Royalton Firefighter Larry Stewart returns to his truck at right. Burnham discovered the fire and called the fire department to the Broad Brook Road home he shares with Brinkman at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. They both escaped uninjured. Fire Chief Paul Brock said that the building was already starting to collapse when he arrived and is a total loss. “Fifteen minutes from the time we were on scene, the house was in the basement,” he said. The fire originated in a utility room, according Burnham, and spread fast through the open floor plan, accelerated by windy conditions. Fire departments from Sharon, Barnard, East Barnard, Tunbridge, Bethel and Hartford provided mutual aid. Burnham said his uncle built the home in 2005, and he bought it eight years ago to keep the property in the family. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. VALLEY NEWS — James M. Patterson

The home of Evan Burnham and Erica Brinkman burns in Royalton, Vt., on Saturday, March 31, 2024. The home is a total loss. Photo courtesy of Evan Burnham

The home of Evan Burnham and Erica Brinkman burns in Royalton, Vt., on Saturday, March 31, 2024. The home is a total loss. Photo courtesy of Evan Burnham Photo courtesy of Evan Burnham

By JOHN LIPPMAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 04-01-2024 7:01 PM

SOUTH ROYALTON — A Saturday morning fire rapidly engulfed and consumed a home on Broad Brook Road, displacing the residents who are now sheltering at a hotel in White River Junction.

Evan Burnham said that he discovered a fire in the utility room of the home he shares with his girlfriend, Erica Brinkman, at 2640 Broad Brook Road in South Royalton, at around 9:30 a.m. and called 911.

By the time firefighters arrived at the scene the structure was already totally engulfed and on the verge of collapsing, according to South Royalton Volunteer Fire Department Chief Paul Brock.

Burnham said his two sons, ages 8 and 5, were at their mother’s and not in the house at the time of the fire. The Red Cross has helped to provide them a temporary place to stay at a hotel in White River Junction, he said.

State fire officials are still investigating the origin and cause of the fire, but Burnham said Monday it began in the “furnace room.”

Burnham said that his uncle built the home in 1985 and purchased the 4.3-acre property, which town records show is assessed at $260,400, eight years ago to keep it in the family.

“We are very appreciative of everything that everyone has done and is doing and will do,” Burnham told the Valley News on Monday. “The overwhelming sense of community has been nothing short of amazing.”

A GoFundMe page organized by Amber Leavitt, a friend, to raise for the occupants who lost all their belongings went up within hours of the blaze on Saturday.

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“They are in urgent need of financial support to help with clothing, food, temporary housing, and other necessities,” Leavitt wrote on the page, which by noon Monday had raised more than $17,000.

“It takes a village” Leavitt wrote.

In addition to South Royalton Fire Department, departments from Sharon, Barnard, East Barnard, Tunbridge, Bethel and Hartford provided mutual aid.

Valley News photographer James M. Patterson contributed to this report.