The rumors began swirling long before the smoke cleared on Christmas Eve. This morning The Stowe Reporter, in a solid piece of reporting by staffer Tommy Gardner, confirmed it: It was Burton Snowboards founder Jake Carpenter’s sons and friends who accidentally caused the fire that destroyed the Stone Hut at Stowe.
The good news, Gardner reports, is that donations have been pouring in, and Vermont’s Forest, Parks and Recreation commissioner expects the historic structure to be rebuilt.
The Stone Hut, a handsome, rustic one-room fieldstone structure built by Civilian Conservation Corps workers during trail construction at Stowe in 1938, might be considered Stowe’s single most desirable slopeside lodging property, located steps away from the top of the FourRunner Quad on Vermont’s highest peak. Bookings are extremely hard to get: The state awards them by lottery, and Christmas week certainly ranks as one of the most desirable dates.
Highlights from Gardner’s story:
- State Police confirm that the Carpenter family had indeed rented the Stone Hut for the entire Christmas week.
- The Carpenter boys and friends, preparing the hut for family friends who were expected to stay there the evening of Dec. 23, built up the fire and stacked extra firewood against the woodstove to dry, causing the fire.
- They learned later that night that the family friends would not be staying in the 80-year-old structure after all. Worried about the possibility of a fire, they considered hiking up to investigate, but “figured if there was a fire, it had already happened,” according to investigators.
- The Carpenter family, said to be vacationing in Europe since January, is unresponsive to repeated requests for comment.
- The Carpenters are frequent Stone Hut renters, Gardner reports. They enjoyed three separate stays last season.