Photo by Len Emery
An early morning fire killed Russell Nutbrown, 90, and his son Barry Nutbrown, 57, at their home in Dummerston.
DUMMERSTON — An early-morning fire has claimed the lives of an elderly father and his son, Vermont State Police said Monday.
State police said Russell Nutbrown, 90, and his son Barry Nutbrown, 57, had both died in the fire at 420 School House Road. Both father and son were well-known musicians, according to people who knew them.
The blue clapboard house, located near the intersection with the East-West Road in Dummerston, was a burned-out shell by the morning. The fire was reported shortly before 5 a.m.
“The fire is being investigated by both the fire marshal’s office and the arson unit,” said Vermont State Police Detective Lt. Todd Illingworth, who is based at the Rockingham barracks.
He said both units typically investigate a fatal fire and until the investigation was completed wouldn’t rule out arson.
Both the father and the son were in the residence when the fire broke out, sometime around 5 a.m.
“We will have to wait for the autopsy for cause of death,” he said.
The Rev. Susanna Griefen, pastor of the Dummerston Center Congregational Church, said Russell Nutbrown was a fiddler in the Canadian tradition, and his son Barry played the guitar.
“They were fabulous musicians, famous really,” said Griefen, who added Barry Nutbrown played his guitar for church services, but his father had arthritis in his hands that had stopped him from performing in recent years.
The minister said Russell Nutbrown and his late wife had a daughter living in Vernon.
Russell Nutbrown, along with other musicians, was recorded on a 2003 album called “Vermont: Kitchen Tunks and Parlor Songs,” and the elder Nutbrown played “Flowers of Edinburgh” and “Drum Tone.”
West Dummerston Fire Chief Rich Loomen couldn’t be reached for comment after the fire. Assisting in fighting the fire were Brattleboro, Putney, and Guilford.
Vermont State Police said the firefighters were able to contain the fire and keep it from spreading to neighboring homes.
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