Family thankful for support after fire

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MANCHESTER — A Dorset family is thankful they will have a home to return to after a fire destroyed their kitchen, but the fire has also rekindled a passion for their community.

Stacy Kilburn said the apartment she and her children and boyfriend share on Route 30 could have been a total loss if not for the quick actions of her boyfriend, Tommy Browne.

The couple had dinner on the stove about 8 p.m. Sunday when something went wrong.

"My boyfriend went around the corner and when he got in the kitchen it was flaming on top of the stove, and spreading fast," Kilburn said. "Unfortunately, we had oil on the stove and it quickly got out of control."

Kilburn knew not to open doors to feed oxygen to the fire, so she went out another way and called 911.

"Something clicked in my head and was like no, don't open the door," Kilburn said. "It would have gone around the corner and up the stairs; our house would've been completely engulfed."

She said Browne's efforts saved the house.

He was able to throw the flaming grease out the back door and knock down the flames that were spreading through the kitchen.

"Had it not been for Tommy's quick thinking, the house would've been a complete loss," Kilburn said.

"It's a beautiful old house."

The children, Griffin Briggs, 15, a student at Burr and Burton Academy, and Molly Briggs, 12, a student at The Dorset School, were not home.

Kilburn said the scene is now etched in her mind.

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"I was on the phone with 911 outside on the front porch," Kilburn said. "I remember seeing flames just shooting through the door casing and right above his head. When I finally got Tommy to come out of the house [after the] fire was extinguished, there was a black wall of smoke from the ceiling down about 5 feet that was so thick and so dark you couldn't even see through it. It's an image I'll never forget."

The Dorset Fire Department reported it responded to the structure fire and called for mutual aid at the scene from East Dorset and Manchester fire departments. Rupert, Pawlet and Arlington fire departments were on standby in case they were needed. The Northshire Rescue Squad rolled to the scene as a precaution.

Firefighters arrived and conducted an overhaul of the fire scene, searching for hidden fire in the walls and ceiling and vented significant smoke from the structure.

Kilburn said Dorset Fire Chief Sean Hazelton was on the scene fast.

"Sean Hazelton was here in a flash," Kilburn said. "He was so professional and compassionate. All of the responders were here quickly and just so kind. They were great."

Kilburn said they were uninjured and their cat, King, was fine as well.

The couple will be able to stay with Kilburn's sister for a while until another apartment opens up while they await their apartment to be repaired.

And the fire has reminded Kilburn what a great community Dorset is.

"We love being here in Dorset," Kilburn said. "Everyone in the community has been fantastic, reaching out and offering support, offering places to stay and bringing meals to us, clothing, kitchen needs."

Kilburn said her mother had a health issue in 2012 so she already knew Dorset's generosity.

"Our family already knows what it's like to have this community rally around those who need support it was phenomenal then and still is to this day," Kilburn said. "It's just an amazing place to live."

Contact Darren Marcy at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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