Despite devastating fire, Vermont newspaper publishes on
As it has since 1853, the Vermont Standard newspaper will publish this week, just days after a fire destroyed its office in Woodstock.
The weekly newspaper’s nine-person staff is working out of the town library while investigators get to the bottom of the two-alarm fire on Monday that tore through the building where the paper was located.
Phillip Camp, president and owner of the newspaper, said the staff feels a deep obligation to the citizenry of Woodstock, a town of about 3,000 people near the New Hampshire border.
“There’s an incredible spirit up here in Vermont,” Camp said by telephone Tuesday night. “People really, really care about their community.”
The fire marks the second time in recent years that the newspaper has run into bad luck. Severe flooding from Tropical Storm Irene destroyed the newspaper’s office in West Woodstock in 2011.
“It was a dress rehearsal for what we just went through yesterday,” Camp said, joking.
The fire broke out shortly before 3:30 a.m. in a building at 46-55 Central St. Along with the newspaper, the building also had three apartments, the Collective Art Gallery, and a restaurant called Pi Brick Oven Trattoria, fire officials said.
Heavy smoke was apparent when Woodstock fire crews arrived. Camp said he arrived with his wife at about 5 a.m. and found a “ . . . huge black cloud of smoke covering the entire community.”
The blaze quickly grew to two-alarms, drawing fire crews from neighboring towns, including some from New Hampshire, along with the Red Cross, according to the Woodstock Fire Department.
“High temperatures, humidity and nature of work was the reason multiple agencies were called,” Woodstock Fire Chief David Green said in a statement.
Two firefighters were sent to a hospital to be treated for heat exhaustion, he added.
The fire, which is believed to have started on the first floor of the restaurant, caused an estimated $1 million in damage, according to the statement.
Woodstock police and Vermont arson investigators are investigating. “ . . . the cause and origin of the fire, which at this time is undetermined, but suspicious,” Green said in the statement.
The blaze, which was finally out by 11:30 a.m., destroyed the restaurant and apartments. The Standard’s office and the art gallery were partially saved, and had minimal smoke and water damage, according to the statement.
Firefighters were able to retrieve the newspaper’s 10 computers. On Monday, the Standard’s staff relocated to the Norman Williams Public Library, where it will remain until further notice, Camp said.
The Standard, which was named the best weekly newspaper in New England in 2016 by the New England Newspaper and Press Association, has been covering the fire on its website. Photographs and videos show what the paper called “ . . . one of the largest fires in Woodstock’s history.”
Gareth Henderson, editor of the Standard, posted a story with the headline, ‘Making It Through Tough Times - Together.” He thanked the firefighters who responded, and the outpouring of support from the community, including other newspapers in Vermont and New Hampshire.
“We thank everyone for their generosity and support of all those impacted by this terrible fire,” Henderson wrote.
This week’s print edition will come out on Friday, two days late. The Standard usually comes out at 6 p.m. sharp on Wednesday.
Camp said he has penned a special editorial for the front page, thanking advertisers, readers, and the community for their support and loyalty.