VSP Press Releases: 2/21/15 Thetford Fire Rescue Statements

Jump to Link in Article



Vermont State Police Statement
Thetford Volunteer Fire Department Statement

VICTIMS: Roberta Howard, 82 – Richard Howard, 81
CITY, STATE OF RESIDENCE: 4439 VT Route 5 Thetford, VT

Richard and Roberta Howard’s family have requested that the Vermont State Police release the following statement on their behalf:
We would like to thank both Vermont State Police Sergeant Lyle Decker, and the Thetford Volunteer Fire Department for their extraordinary efforts in helping the family rescue Roberta from Friday night’s devastating fire. We are also grateful to all of the departments and their efforts to save what they could of our home and our belongings.

We sincerely appreciate all those in the community who have expressed concern and offered help. Roberta is stable, and making progress toward recovery in Boston, however it’s unclear how long this may take. Richard is recovering in the care of his family.

At this time we would also like to respectfully request from the media some time and privacy, as we make our way through the aftermath of the fire and the trauma of the events that ensued. We will keep everyone up to date on Roberta and Richard’s progress as best we can.
Statement from Vermont State Police Director, Colonel Tom L’Esperance, on the actions of troopers in the rescue of Roberta Howard:

Public service is what defines the Vermont State Police and all first response organizations. I want to recognize Sergeant Lyle Decker for his extraordinary actions in the rescue of Roberta Howard, and his exemplary service to the community of Thetford. The Vermont State Police express sympathy to the Howard family for the loss of their home, but know the tight-knit community of Thetford will stand by the family as it recovers.

I pledge that the Vermont State Police and the Bradford barracks will also continue to support the family, and serve the community of Thetford, and the communities of which we are all members.
Statement from Chad Whitcomb, Thetford Volunteer Fire Department Chief, Incident Commander:

Lyle Decker behaved heroically on the morning on February 21 at the scene of the fire, first by recognizing the smoke and calling the fire in and then waiting for the Thetford Fire Department to arrive. He recognized the conditions were not safe to enter the building and worked to maintain a perimeter and keep members of the public safe. The homeowner’s family reported the trapped woman was in her bedroom on the second floor.

Upon the arrival of the Thetford Fire Department, firefighters made entry to the second floor of the building to search for the homeowner. Sgt. Decker was at the front of the building when a second team of firefighters entered the building.

At that time, the smoke cleared for a brief moment and he shined a flashlight into the building. At this point he saw a woman’s leg about 12 feet from the door and again heroically crawled into the building and pulled the chair in which the individual was sitting towards the door. He exited the building and the Thetford Fire Chief and homeowner’s son removed the woman from the building and she was rushed to the waiting ambulance.

As it is not safe to enter a building without appropriate personal protective equipment, Sgt. Decker put himself at great risk to work with the fire department to save this woman. His efforts were nothing short of amazing and the inter-agency cooperation made a tremendous difference in this emergency.

The Thetford Fire Department thanks the Vermont State Police for their assistance during this emergency and specifically wants to recognize Sgt. Decker for his actions.

On 02/21/2015 Sgt.

Lyle Decker with the Vermont State Police Bradford barracks was on patrol on Route 5 in Thetford. Sgt. Decker observed a large amount of smoke coming from the home.

Upon further investigation, Sgt. Decker discovered the house was on fire. Sgt.

Decker contacted State Police dispatch who in turn dispatched the Thetford Fire Department.

While awaiting the arrival of fire personnel, Sgt. Decker discovered Richard Howard, 81, outside the residence. Howard reported to Decker that his wife Roberta, 82, was still in the structure, and attempted to go back in the house.

Sgt. Decker helped Richard Howard to a vehicle in the driveway for his protection, assuring him that he would attempt to locate Roberta. Sgt.

Decker then went around the residence to assess the fire, and attempt to identify where Roberta could be located. The son of the home owner arrived soon after and advised he had been speaking with his mother on the phone who informed him the house was on fire and she was still in it. The son tried to enter the house at the rear but the fire was too intense.

Using a ladder to access the upstairs bathroom window, the son climbed up, broke the glass and screamed for his mother. He heard her respond from the front interior of the house so he ran around and extended the ladder to the upstairs bedroom window. After breaking the glass and trying to enter the room several times, he was forced back because of the heavy smoke.

As members of the Thetford Fire Department arrived, several firefighters used the ladder to attempt a second floor rescue.

Other fire fighters entered the main floor trying to make their way to an interior staircase. While this was taking place another crew was actively engaged in fighting the fire in the rear of the house. The son had also entered the front door trying to crawl to his mother’s rescue when he was forced back due to heavy smoke.

When he exited the house he was met at the door by Sgt. Decker, Trooper David Shaffer, and Trooper David Powers. When he attempted to go back into the house a second time he was detained by the Troopers for his own safety.

While in the doorway, Sgt. Decker used his flashlight to try and see into the structure. Decker observed what he believed to be a person sitting in a chair approximately 12 feet inside the house.

Decker crawled into the house on his stomach, grabbed the chair by the leg and proceeded to drag it and the female victim to the entry door. Once Decker was able to get the victim and chair close to the door, the son and the Thetford Fire Chief also entered and assisted in removing there female. Once outside, the female was transferred to waiting EMS personnel and transported to the hospital.

The female was later transferred to the Boston hospital for more specialized and definitive care. The Trooper, the fire chief and the son were not injured during the rescue.

The Thetford Fire Dept. requested mutual aid from numerous other departments to assist with fighting the fire.

The bitterly cold temperatures hampered the fire department’s ability to locate and maintain a steady water supply. Water was being shuttled to the fire from several locations and required a collaborative effort by numerous departments. Based on the nature of the fire and the extent of injuries sustained by the homeowner the Thetford Fire Chief called the State Police to request a cause and origin investigation.

Members of the State Police Fire Unit along with members of the Division of Fire Safety responded to the scene to conduct the investigation.

This was very much a working fire when the investigators arrived on scene. Fire suppression efforts were still under way and heavy equipment was being brought in to assist with removing portions of the structure. The house was deemed a total loss and was being demolished to aid in putting out hot spots that were still present.

The fire is currently under investigation but does not appear to be suspicious at this time.
Contact: Scott Waterman – Public Information Officer – 802-241-5277 desk / 802-279-4554 cell

Scott Waterman

Vermont State Police Public Information Officer

[email protected]1[email protected]2>

Desk 802-241-5277

Cell 802-279-4554

Twitter @VSP_PIO

Vermont Department of Public Safety | Vermont State Police

Press Releases: http://vsp.vermont.gov/press_releases3

Submit an Anonymous Tip: http://www.vtips.info4

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/VermontStatePolice5

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/VTStatePolice6


  1. ^ [email protected] (vtstatepolice.blogspot.com)
  2. ^ [email protected] (vtstatepolice.blogspot.com)
  3. ^ http://vsp.vermont.gov/press_releases (vsp.vermont.gov)
  4. ^ http://www.vtips.info (www.vtips.info)
  5. ^ http://www.facebook.com/VermontStatePolice (www.facebook.com)
  6. ^ http://www.twitter.com/VTStatePolice (www.twitter.com)

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *