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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Officials withholding Wilton fire information until autopsy results available

WILTON – Fire officials are withholding the identity of the victim of a fatal fire in Wilton over the weekend, and the cause of the fire, pending further tests, they announced Tuesday.

Investigators have finished investigating the fire but said they wouldn’t release the information pending tests being conducted as part of an autopsy performed Monday, according to a release.

Firefighters from at least six towns responded to the blaze that started around 6 p.m. Sunday, when neighbors reported seeing heavy smoke coming from the barn area. Smoke was visible to drivers along Route 101.

The property is on the north side of Maple Street, about halfway between Russell and Putnam streets, and the large house and barn, recently renovated, date to 1868.

Multiple sources have confirmed that Arnold Vance, who lived in the large house at 80 Maple St., died in the fire.

In a statement released Tuesday, state fire marshal William Degnan and Wilton Fire Chief Raymond Dick said a Wilton Fire Department member who lives nearby first spotted the fire and tried to rescue the victim, who was still inside the barn portion of the single-family home.

The fire started in the right rear corner on the ground floor of the barn.

On Sunday evening, crowds gathered to watch firefighting efforts that continued until at least 8 p.m.

One firefighter suffered minor burns to his face and hands, Dick said.

The barn-like garage and the well were destroyed, he said, and the main structure has heavy smoke and water damage.

Property cards list the property owner as Donna D. Crane, and neighbors report that Crane and Vance lived in the house and are the parents of two young children. A witness said Crane suffered burns on her hands and was taken by ambulance for treatment, and neighbors and relatives cared for the children.

The initial call reportedly came in saying “a person is on fire.”

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or Also, follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).