— Stowe Reporter (@StoweToday) February 18, 2016
According to police in the ski town of Stowe, Vermont, the Christmas Eve fire that burned down the historic Stone Hut lodge on the slopes of Stowe Mountain was caused by George Carpenter, the son of Burton Snowboards founder Jake Carpenter.
On Thursday, per a report by the Stowe Reporter, Vermont State Police announced that Jake Carpenter had the lodge rented out when it burned down in the early morning hours of Dec. 24.
The police report on the incident says that George Carpenter and his brother, Timothy, had gone up to the Stone Hut, at their father’s behest, at around 1:40 p.m. on Dec. 23 to leave supplies for a family friend who was going to be staying there.
The brothers built up a very large fire in the wood stove located in the rustic hut to warm it up, and brought in some wet wood from outside, leaning it up against the stove to dry it out.
“A few of the pieces were placed at an angle where the tip of the wood was against the stove and made a 'hissing' sound as the snow began to melt against it,” the police report reads.
The Carpenter duo left the hut roughly an hour later, but at about 8 p.m. that night, they realized the family friend they expected never showed up. They contemplated making the two-hour climb up to the hut to check on the stove but told investigators they “figured if there was a fire, it had already happened.”
A Stowe Mountain lift mechanic found the hut on fire the next morning at roughly 7 a.m. and alerted fire officials. Despite its name, much of the Stone Hut was made of wood, and the lodge had been completely engulfed by the flames.
But despite the immense history of the minimalistic hut that sits atop Vermont’s highest peak — the Stone Hut would have celebrated its 80th year this year — local officials aren’t lamenting the fire.
Rather, they say they are excited to rebuild it, as donations have been pouring in from all across the nation to restore the spartan cabin that allowed visitors to wake up, walk out the door and ski down one of the Northeast’s premier mountains.
“We're happy. More than happy, actually. We're blown away,” Michael Snyder, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, told the Reporter. “We still plan, and I say plan, to rebuild … It's a whole new world, and we have to deal with all that. But rather than bemoan that, we're working hard toward getting it rebuilt. And we're buoyed by the enthusiastic response.”
As for the Carpenter family, police say George waited two days after the fire to call an arson tip line and take responsibility, stating to investigators that he waited because he didn’t think anyone would be working the hotline on Christmas.
Reporters with the Stowe Reporter have failed multiple times to get into contact with Jake Carpenter, who lives locally, and according to Snyder, he hasn’t heard a thing from the family.
“I've heard nothing from the family. Not one peep in any way, unofficially or through official channels,” Snyder told the Stowe Reporter.
The fire has been deemed as accidental by local authorities, and no criminal charges have been filed regarding the incident.
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