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Back-to-back fires in Windsor County draw more than a dozen departments; 1 person dead 

A house fire burned Sunday night off Route 103 in Chester. Facebook photo from Alstead (N.H.) Fire Department

One person was killed in a fire in Springfield Sunday night, when back-to-back blazes abetted by cold and wind in Windsor County drew a dozen fire departments.

The person died in a two-alarm fire in a storage shed behind a duplex at 165 Park St., Springfield Fire Chief Paul Stagner said. The victim’s identity has not been released, and Stagner said it was not yet clear why the person was inside the structure. 

“When we arrived, there were a number of people that were in the back area that, upon initial reports, could not confirm or deny if there was anybody inside the building,” Stagner said. “A lot of the structure — probably a third of it — was not searchable when we arrived just because of the heavy fire.”

The frigid, blustery conditions that dropped into the 20s aided the quick spread of the fire, which his department responded to just before 7 p.m., Stagner said.

Springfield’s mutual aid partners responded to the incident, which is now being investigated by Vermont’s fire investigation team, he added.

About an hour later, crews from more than a dozen departments responded to a fire at a home in neighboring Chester at 1324 Route 103, according to Chester Fire Chief Matthew Wilson. 

“It was windy, and I think we were around 12 degrees in temperature,” Wilson said. “Our firefighters were literally ice cubes, so we had to keep rotating people into the warming stations to dethaw them so they could go back to work again.”

Some departments — including Windsor, Springfield and Chester — left the fire in Springfield to respond to the Chester call, about 10 miles to the west. Springfield contributed a tower truck, and Alstead, New Hampshire, supported the effort with a tanker, according to Wilson. 

The home “was occupied. There were minor injuries,” Wilson said. “It’s a total loss. The structure is still there, but the interior is not.”

Wilson said he planned to interview the home’s residents later Monday morning to learn more about how the fire may have started and spread.

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