RICHFORD — One day after his preliminary motion hearing on a forfeiture order for eight dogs, the Richford home Randy Sheperd was living in burned to the ground.

According to a Richford Fire Department official, a call came in around 4:30 p.m. Thursday for a fire at 444 East Richford Slide Rd.

Fire departments from Berkshire, Enosburgh, Jay and Troy provided mutual aid, and according to the official, firefighters were there through the night putting water on the building.

“The house is burned right down,” he added.

There were no reports as of this morning regarding any injuries resulting from the fire, and the cause was still undetermined. Vermont State Police and Richford Fire Department personnel were on the scene this morning to investigate.

A call was made to VSP Lt. John Flannigan on Friday but it was not returned by press time.

Montgomery attorney Barry Kade bought it in a tax sale last July. Kade said by phone this morning that he had lent Sheperd money four or five years ago to pay taxes and pay a small mortgage.

“He stopped making payments to me after a year and he stopped paying the town taxes,” said Kade. He added that he felt it would be easier to buy Sheperd’s home in a tax sale over going the foreclosure process.

Kade said that he had planned to evict Sheperd this spring, and he already had a court order to force him out in March.

“I was waiting for the weather to warm up to kick him out,” said Kade. In light of the fire, he said, “I should have done that last week.”

In speaking of the house that is no longer standing, Kade said, “It was a very old house, it was well-constructed. It was basically in pretty decent shape for its age.”

Now, with the 19 or so acres left where the house sat, Kade is hoping to get the $25,000 to $30,000 he’s invested in the property.

“It’s definitely for sale,” he said. “I’d be glad to get that money back.”

As for Sheperd, he is facing eight counts of animal cruelty. He plead not guilty to the charges on March 30, and he has several motions pending. The eight dogs seized from the home in February were described in court documents as malnourished, improperly housed and ill. They are now in the care of the Franklin County Animal Rescue and are doing well.

UPDATE: Sheperd home blaze proves to be accident

Dog abuse suspect still facing charges

By Messenger Staff

RICHFORD —Vermont State Police say a fire that destroyed the Richford abode of Randy Sheperd, a 54-year-old currently facing eight charges of animal cruelty, is not considered suspicious.

The Richford Fire Department was called to the single family home around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday and arrived to see heavy smoke coming from the residence. Firefighters called for mutual aid from Berkshire, Jay, Enosburgh and Troy.

Two people were in the building at the time of the fire – one in the main house and one in the basement – but all escaped without injury. State Police did not identify the people in the house.

State Police and the Division of Fire Safety determined the cause to be accidental. Police mentioned that improper disposal of smoking materials in the back of the home was a possible cause.

The home, valued at $150,000, was a total loss. Montgomery attorney Barry Kade, who bought the house from Sheperd in a tax sale last July, owns it.

Kade said, he lent money to Sheperd for a small mortgage and for town taxes several years ago. After Sheperd failed to pay both Kade and the town their fair share, Kade said he took the property in a tax sale as a way to avoid foreclosure for Sheperd.

Kade had a court order to evict Sheperd in March, though he said he was allowing Sheperd to stay until it became warmer.

The fire took place a day after Sheperd appeared in Franklin County Superior Court for a preliminary motion hearing on a forfeiture order, which he chose to contest. Sheperd had eight dogs seized from his home in February and was arraigned on the same number of animal cruelty counts in late March.

The dogs are currently in the care of the Franklin County Animal Rescue and are doing well.