Fire officials: Wood stove likely cause of Bernardston house fire

  • 178 Turners Falls Road in Bernardston was the scene of a two-alarm fire that consumed the 250-year-old home of Bob and Linda Raymond, who were not home at the time. Bernardston Fire Chief Peter Shedd said the insured structure was a total loss. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 12/21/2022 5:11:25 PM

BERNARDSTON — The two-alarm fire that displaced a married couple on Turners Falls Road earlier this week has been deemed accidental, most likely starting with wood stove piping above the ceiling.

The cause of Monday evening’s blaze at 178 Turners Falls Road was investigated by the Bernardston Fire Department and State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit assigned to the state Fire Marshal’s Office.

No one was in the 1½-story home at the time of the fire, with Bob Raymond — who in the spring retired from a 15-year stint on the Bernardston Selectboard — having been at work in Hinsdale, New Hampshire. His wife, Linda, was watching their grandchildren play basketball at Pioneer Valley Regional School.

The Bernardston Fire Department responded to a 911 call reporting the fire at around 5:30 p.m. Firefighters observed smoke and flames through the roof, and struck a second alarm that brought mutual aid from Erving, Gill, Greenfield, Northfield, South Deerfield and Turners Falls, as well as Brattleboro, Guilford, and Vernon, Vermont.

“Today is the first day of winter, and with home energy prices rising we expect to see fireplaces and wood stoves working overtime for the next few months,” Bernardston Fire Chief Peter Shedd said in a statement released by Jake Wark, public information officer with the state Department of Fire Services, on Wednesday. “I want to remind everyone in our community to keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away on all sides; use a screen in front of the fireplace or keep the door of the wood stove closed when it’s in use; and extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house. When you dispose of ashes, put them in a metal can with a tight-fitting lid, not the trash, and place it at least 10 feet from the home.”

Shedd said the house was a total loss but expressed relief no one was injured or killed.

“Home heating equipment is the second-leading cause of residential fires, and solid fuel appliances like fireplaces and wood stoves account for a rising percentage over the past five years,” said State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey said in the statement. “We recommend having heating equipment, including chimneys and flues, professionally checked every year. Regular maintenance can help identify problems before they become emergencies and ensure your heating system is running efficiently.”

Shedd and Ostroskey emphasized the importance of having functional smoke and carbon monoxide alarms at home, especially during the winter, when residential fires and carbon monoxide incidents increase. Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years and carbon monoxide alarms should be replaced after five to seven years. Manufacturing dates are printed on the back of alarms.

Reach Domenic Poli at: or 413-930-4120.


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