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Fire destroys historic Dutch Mill Motel

SHELBURNE -- Police are investigating a fire that destroyed a Shelburne motel over the weekend. Just before midnight on Saturday, December 1, a fire broke out at the Dutch Mill Motel, located at 4358 Shelburne Road in Shelburne. The Shelburne Fire Department responded to the fire, and subsequently requested that State Police investigate the cause of the fire, which has been deemed suspicious. Although the building was completely destroyed, no one was injured and nine people were forced to seek emergency shelter. The fire destroyed the southernmost five-unit section of the historic motel on Saturday night. The incident brought back memories of an earlier fire for Jamie Bissonette who, with his parents and brother Chris, owns the landmark on Route 7 just north of Shelburne Village. Jamie recalled the fire on September 10, 2003, that destroyed the Dutch Mill office and restaurant, a local landmark since the 1920s. This fire is worse, he said, because this motel was home for these people and they have lost everything. And being so close to Christmas makes it even more tragic. Jamie said he was about to go to bed in his home at the northern end of the motel property at 11:37, when his cellphone rang and a motel resident told him there was a fire. He called 911 and then pitched in to fight the fire. He praised the Shelburne Volunteer Fire Department for their prompt response and for the work they put into extinguishing the fire, including bringing in a backhoe to break into the roof of Unit #3 where the fire was located. On Monday morning, snow blanketed the piles of rubble in front of the motel, but nothing could obscure the overpowering smell of charred wood or soften the starkness of roofs smashed by the firefighters in their attempt to put out the stubborn blaze. Cause of the fire has not been determined, but the Fire Marshall and insurance investigators were visiting the site early in the week. Citizens with any information regarding the fire are asked to contact Det. Sgt. Cornell at 802-878-7111 or the Champlain Valley Crime Stoppers at 800-427-8477.

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