Woman Dies In Barnet Fire

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire that destroyed an outbuilding at 731 Whitehill Road in Barnet Thursday morning. A woman who had been staying in the structure died from apparent smoke inhalation. (Photo by Dana Gray)

A 21-year-old woman staying in a building on the property at 731 Whitehill Road in Barnet died this morning when a fire broke out in the building.

The property is owned by Evan Perkins and Heidi Choate, owners and operators of Small Axe Farms. Perkins said the woman, Kelsey Locke, from Groveland, Mass., had been staying in the building. She had asked to stay there temporarily. She had been employed on the farm two years ago, Perkins said.

Firefighters were called to the scene about 4:20 a.m. after Perkins became aware of the fire.

He said when he saw the flames he went to the building and discovered the door had been locked. He got a ladder and climbed to the second floor to the area of the building where he believed Locke would have been sleeping. He broke an upstairs window but didn’t see her in the room, Perkins said, so he went back down to the front door and broke it down.

Perkins said the building was full of smoke and he saw the woman lying on the floor.

“I went in and dragged her out, but she was gone,” he said.

Fire departments from Barnet, Peacham, Wells River, Monroe, N.H. and Ryegate were sent to the scene. CALEX was also sent, and a medical examiner was dispatched because of the death.

The driveway leading to the property is long and narrow. Only one fire truck was located at the scene of the fire. Several trucks were parked on Whitehill Road. Over 700 feet of hose was stretched from tanker trucks parked on Whitehill Road to the fire.

The building was engulfed when firefighters arrived. It was destroyed. Firefighters extinguished the flames and prevented the fire from spreading in either direction. On one side is a greenhouse and on the other side is the residence of Perkins, Choate and their children.

Vermont State Police were called to investigate the fire’s cause. Perkins said he had no idea how the fire started. He said he didn’t believe it was related to the wood stove because he didn’t see fire in that area of the bulding.

Detective Sgt. Clark Lombardi stated the investigation is continuing, but the fire does not appear suspicious.

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