Barrel-making business working to rebuild after blaze

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A Vermont business is looking to rebuild after a fire destroyed much of its workspace last month. Green Mountain Grain and Barrel makes barrels for Vermont distilleries, wineries, and breweries.

“Just to see it go up like that is pretty heart wrenching,” said owner, Tony Fletcher.

Fletcher didn’t know much about barrel-making before starting his Richmond business 3 years ago. He and two of his army buddies heard about the demand for barrels from distillers around the state.

“We reverse engineered a couple and over the course of 6 months, we figured out how to make one,” he said.

On October 13th, their hard work went up in flames. Fire officials believe something electrical caused the blaze, although they couldn’t pinpoint an exact origin.

“The bigger and bigger it got, I was in my mind picturing the things that were burning,” Fletcher said. “It was just heartbreaking.”

The flames destroyed almost everything, including the barrel-making equipment.

“It was the main machine that produced our staves,” Fletcher said. “As you can see, most of the poly components are melted.”

But the flames didn’t touch most of the wood that the barrels are made out of. It was away from the barn, being dried out. Fletcher said they’ll need time to sort through the rubble and make plans to rebuild. Until they do, he’s bought a few hundred white oak barrels made in Missouri to sell.

“We’ll use those to provide to our customers and also to keep generating some income in the meantime until we’re able to make new barrels again,” he said.

Fletcher estimates it’ll take about a year to resume production.

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