A South Burlington fire engulfed a building on the Belter Farm during the early hours of Sunday morning. No people or animals were harmed by the blaze. The structure was deemed a complete loss, with damages totaling about $350,000.
Around 2:40 a.m. Sunday, April 7, the South Burlington Fire Department received calls reporting a barn fire at 104 Ethan Allen Drive. Witnesses reported sounds of explosions at the scene. According to South Burlington Fire Chief Terry Francis, those noises can likely be attributed to the barn’s metal roof tresses giving way. There was no propane stored in the building.
The South Burlington Fire Department deployed its Ladder 1 and Engine 2 trucks as well as an ambulance. The Vermont Air National Guard sent its own engine to aid at the scene.
The Air Guard engine arrived at the scene within three minutes of the call and worked to protect two barns that were less than 15-feet away from the burning building.
Burlington Fire Department, St. Michael’s Fire Department and UVM rescue soon joined the effort. Shelburne Fire units deployed for the scene but were diverted to cover four other calls in South Burlington. The 29 firefighters extinguished the flames by 7:25 a.m.
“The mutual aid system works for everybody’s advantage,” Francis said. “It’s a critical component for public safety.
The pole barn structure housed 50 cows and calves and about 350,000 pounds of baled hay. Belter family members released the livestock before the fire completely overwhelmed the barn. A nearby calf barn incurred minor damage from the flames.
The cause of the fire is under investigation and foul play has not been ruled out. Recreating and investigating the scene could take up to two weeks, Francis said. The South Burlington Fire Marshall’s Office, South Burlington Police Department, the Department of Public Safety Fire Investigation Group and Vermont State Police will conduct the investigation.
In February 2015, a barn fire on the Belter property killed 20 calves and destroyed two buildings. Officials said that fire had likely been caused by a calf knocking over an electric heater. In the 1980s a fire destroyed a 400-foot barn on the same property.
The Belter Farm is comprised of about seven barn structures with both cows and calves, according to Francis.