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Historic Monticello Home Goes Up in Flames

A historic home in Monticello is in rubble Tuesday after firefighters battled nearly four hours to try to save it. The fire broke out early Monday morning and took a city landmark with it.

The owners of the restored historic home, John and Audrey Durst, were on a motor home trip. They were in Arizona when they got the phone call about the home they had put so much into.

This historic 16-room home in Monticello was originally built in 1889. Over the years, the home has had different owners, but neighbors say none like the current ones, John and Audrey Durst.

"They've been restoring the home for years. You would see him working on the house, late at night, and his wife did all the antiques. They really put their hearts into it," said Grainville Knowles.

Residents say the Durst’s have spent the last 10 years restoring the home. They did such a great job the home has been recognized in national magazines and was a tourist stop, but Monday night, fire fighters say the home accidentally went up in flames.

"Seems to have started in the basement, electrical, either a light or a heater, an electrical short. It hit the floors and up the walls," said Demont Anderson.

Fire fighters say the problem with these older homes is gaps in the walls. They say if a fire starts these gaps work like chimneys. Fire fighters say the Durst’s should be back in town Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. Investigators say the home and its antique furnishings were valued at least $1 million.

Fire fighters saved as much as they could in the way of furnishings, but they say there's a good chance they may go back and with a controlled burn, burn the house down.


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