MIDDLESEX — The home of Middlesex author Woden Teachout burned down this past weekend and family members are thanking the community for its support in their hour of need.
Jeff Koonz, assistant fire chief in Middlesex, said a possible chimney fire was called in around 1:30 p.m. Saturday on Brook Road. Koonz said when fire crews arrived, flames were coming out of the roof.
He said fire crews tried to battle the blaze from the inside, but the roof was starting to cave in so they exited the home and put it out from the outside. The fire was put out around 5 p.m. and Koonz said the scene was cleared around 6 p.m.
“Miraculously, through the grace of God, none of the homeowners were injured and none of the firefighters were injured,” he said.
Koonz said the building wasn’t a total loss because some of the walls and a part of the roof were still standing, and there were items in the basement that were salvageable.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Crews from Montpelier, Berlin, East Montpelier, Waterbury, Moretown, Waitsfield and Worcester responded to the fire.
“It was a team effort and we would not be able to do the job we do without the support of the mutual aid system,” Koonz said.
The home was owned by Teachout and her husband Mark Kurts. Teachout wrote “Slow Democracy” with Susan Clark and also wrote “Capture the Flag: A Political History of American Patriotism.” She is the daughter of Vermont Judge Mary Miles Teachout and the sister of Zephyr Teachout, who ran for attorney general of New York last year.
Teachout is currently teaching in Romania with her four youngest children, out of seven kids, while Mark Kurts is in the process of rebuilding with two of their sons.
Teachout’s step daughter, Aly Johnson-Kurts, said the fire has been hard on her family.
She said her father and two of her siblings are staying with a family friend for the time being. She said she imagines her father will rebuild the home, but they are currently in the process of working with their insurance company.
She said the family moved in during the mid-2000s and the first things she thought about when she heard about the fire, after making sure her family was safe, were the family photos and some paintings her great grandfather had made — as well as Teachout’s books.
“She had an amazing book collection,” Johnson-Kurts said.
Johnson-Kurts said the community support since the fire has been outstanding.
“We’ve had folks coming by every day, dozens and dozens of people providing food for our family daily and clothes for my siblings. Organizational support. Fielding calls, emails. Managing donations and driving my brothers around. Emotional support. It has been phenomenal to see that kind of outpouring of kindness and support,” she said.
She said people were always swinging by to visit with her family and talk around the family table. Even though the house is gone, she said that table has expanded into the community.
A page has been set up on the crowd-funding site MealTrain.com for those looking to make a donation to help the family. As of Wednesday afternoon, $8,900 had been raised by 86 donations.
The family posted a statement on the page that said: “We have been stunned and humbled by your incredible generosity in response to our house fire, starting with the heroic effort of our fire crews and snowballing from there,” the family posted in a statement on the page. “Your response has been even more overwhelming than the fire. We are so grateful for the offers of housing, the strong backs, the creative workarounds, the strategy sessions, hot dinners, cold beer, warm clothes, sustaining messages, and dark humor. We have always known that we were lucky to live here, but until now we didn’t — couldn’t — realize how much. Thank you for being the finest community we can imagine.”
Those looking to make a cash donation without using an online platform can mail a check or drop one off at Vermont State Employee’s Credit Union written out to “Kurts/Teachout Family” (account #102802443 in Mary Teachout’s name). VSECU, 1 Bailey Ave., Montpelier, VT, 05602.