Insurer Sues Vermont Arson Suspect for Fire Truck Damage

October 24, 2006

A Vermont man already facing arson charges in two apartment house fires now is being sued by the city of Rutland’s insurance company, which says the blazes damaged a fire truck.

Robert Vandriel has pleaded innocent to setting the fires in May of 2005, which destroyed an apartment and badly damaged another building across the street.

Now the Vermont League of Cities and Towns Property and Casualty Insurance Fund has filed suit in Rutland Superior Court against Vandriel.

Court records say Vandriel told police he admitted setting the two fires after drinking beer and taking drugs.

The lawsuit says Vandriel “negligently or intentionally” set the fires and that heat from them caused $56,168 in damage to a city fire truck.

The insurance company paid the city that amount, minus a $500 deductible. It is seeking to recover its payment, plus interest and court costs.

The suit says heat from the fires damaged the city fleet’s largest ladder truck, Engine 1, melting seals on the front axles, breaking the windshield and another window and burning out its electronics.

The truck was out of commission for six weeks, and was repaired in Pennsylvania, where it was made.

“We’re really not involved” in the lawsuit, city Fire Chief Robert Schlachter said, “other than the fact I’m sure we’ll be called to testify if it winds up going there.”

Vandriel, who is being held at the Rutland jail on $25,000 bail, could get up to 20 years in prison if convicted of both arson counts.

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