Another week, another suspicious fire in Stowe.
Less than two weeks after two suspicious fires gutted the Stoware Common building at 638 S. Main St. and damaged the Helen Day Memorial Building at 90 Pond St., another fire broke out in the early morning of April 18 at Stowe Chiropractic.
It’s also considered suspicious, said Detective Sgt. Fred Whitcomb of the Stowe Police Department, and investigators are looking for links among the three fires.
Stowe Chiropractic at 14 Pond St. father-and-son practitioners Bradley Rauch and Ben Rauch.
The building is owned by chiropractor Palmer Peet, who doesn’t work at the Rauches’ practice. Peet couldn’t be reached for comment. His current tax address is in Hayward, Calif.
Stowe Fire Chief Mark Sgantas was among the Stowe firefighters who responded to the blaze, which broke out at about 4:20 a.m. last Thursday.
The fire started in a back corner of the building, Sgantas said, similar to the South Main Street and Pond Street fires.
Sgantas couldn’t say what caused the fire, just that its cause is suspicious.
Sgantas said the initial report was that the building was engulfed in fire, but he saw quickly it wasn’t quite at that level, and Stowe and Waterbury firefighters made sure it never reached that level.
“You could smell the smoking and see some smoke, but it wasn’t a typical fully involved building, which was a good thing,” Sgantas said.
Firefighters got up into the building’s ceiling to ensure the fire hadn’t spread there. Since most of the damage was to the outside of the building, the office was able to treat patients on Friday.
Bradley Rauch said the office is usually closed Thursdays, so he and his staff took the opportunity to secure the building after the fire.
They were seeing patients right on schedule on Friday, he said.
Rauch said he owned a lawnmower with gasoline cans that he stored at the practice; two gasoline containers were located close to the blaze, and one plastic container was melted through, but didn’t ignite.
About 15 feet away is a propane tank Rauch estimates was three-quarters full.
“If that would have gone, it would have been really bad,” Rauch said.
He believes all three fires recently investigated in Stowe were set by the same person.
Rauch thinks his practice was targeted because of the topics that will be discussed at the Vermont Natural Health Expo, a two-day event he’s hosting in May in Stowe that will decry the health benefits of vaccination.
“I just hope they catch the individual or people,” Rauch said.
Vermont State Police and Stowe police are investigating the fire.