Middlebury mansion catches fire, house “a total loss”

MIDDLEBURY, Conn. (WTNH)–A 10,000-square foot home owned by a prominent business man went up in flames in Middlebury Thursday afternoon.

Larry Janesky owns the house, which sits on a private street off of Breakneck Road. The fire began around 4 p.m., and firefighters said they believe the home is now a total loss.

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FireIt was a long day for members of the Middlebury Fire Department, who were still fighting the fire nearly 24 hours later.

“It was a day time call, the day before 4th of July, people are vacationing, so it was a bad time,” said Middlebury fire chief Paul Perotti. “And the weather. 90 plus degree weather, humid. It very tough for firefighting.”

Some firefighters called it the most challenging blaze they’ve had to battle in nearly 20 years.

“This was the worst one,” Perotti said. “As far as the size of the fire, the magnitude of the loss, and just the conditions that we had to face.”

“The whole house was engulfed in flames,” said Middlebury resident Henry Haase.

It took an estimated 1 million gallons of water to contain the fire, and all of the water had to be trucked in because of the rural location.

Middlebury mansion fire, July 3, 2014. Photo by Ricky Kulmann.
Middlebury mansion fire, July 3, 2014. Photo by Ricky Kulmann.

“We’re shuttling water from the fire house, which is about a mile and a half a way,” Perotti said. “You just fill it up, and you get here as fast as you can.”

Fire officials aren’t saying what may have triggered the blaze but a source close to the investigation told News 8 the fire began because of “spontaneous combustion” – the result of foam insulation spraying – it was their belief that the fire was an accident.

But given the size of the flames and smoke that some told us could be seen for miles, this is one event people here say they won’t be forgetting any time soon.

“In a small town like this word gets around fast,” said Middlebury resident Henry Haase. “This is going to be talked about for a few weeks.”

One firefighter was injured while fighting the blaze. News 8 was told that they suffered from heat exhaustion.

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