Griswold — Vicki Guyette and Kenny Guyette stared at what was left of their childhood home at 39 Tatro Road Thursday morning.
They couldn’t mask their pain. Vicki Guyette’s eyes were red and watery from holding back tears, while her brother hid his eyes behind sunglasses.
“I’m still trying to comprehend all of this,” Kenny Guyette said, his voice quivering.
An early Tuesday morning fire that destroyed the home they grew up in claimed the lives of their parents, Wayne and Linda Guyette.
Thursday was an especially difficult day — it would have been Wayne Guyette’s 65th birthday.
“We were supposed to have a surprise party for him at my house on Saturday,” Vicki Guyette said. “We’re still having the party, but now it will be more like a memorial.”
The Griswold couple died of smoke inhalation, the state medical examiner’s office said Thursday. The deaths of Wayne and Linda Guyette were ruled accidental.
The cause of the 4:13 a.m. blaze remains under investigation. Neighbors reported finding the home fully engulfed in flames by the time they called 911.
An insurance adjuster was taking photos of the rubble Thursday morning. State police investigators also briefly visited the house.
Vicki Guyette said she was dealing with the loss of her parents by holding on to all the good memories.
Her parents had two other sons, Wayne and Dan. She was their only daughter and said she was definitely a “daddy’s girl.”
“There’s just a lot of sadness and pain,” she said. “I lived here for the first 20 years of my life. When I turned 21, I moved out with my son. My dad didn’t want us to go. He loved us, especially his grandson.”
That grandson, Tim Guyette, said he hadn’t slept or eaten since his grandparents died. He is the oldest of 10 grandchildren.
“It’s really hard to believe,” he said. “I would stay at this house every weekend until I was about 13, 14 years old.”
Wayne Guyette, a Vietnam veteran, moved from Keene, N.H., into the Tatro Road home when he was a teen.
Vicki Guyette said her father was a master mechanic and would tinker with just about anything. He loved sailboats and restoring cars. He owned only Chevys.
“When my mom bought a Lincoln, he was not happy,” Vicki Guyette said.
She said her father also loved to collect items that depicted the Disney character Goofy.
He worked for the town of Griswold and retired from the Jewett City Department of Public Works, she said.
Linda Guyette was a school bus driver for the towns of Griswold, Plainfield and Canterbury. Vicki said her mother, who was from Plainfield, drove buses for that town for 20 years.
Linda Guyette was 62, but if you asked her age, Vicki said, her mother would say, “‘I’m 29.’ She was always 29.”
Linda Guyette was also a collector and loved cow figurines. She was an avid reader and had almost every Nora Roberts book.
Neighbors remembered the Guyettes as kind and loving people.
Rita Tatro, who lives at 42 Tatro Road, said she last saw Linda Guyette on Monday, when Linda came over with dessert — something new she had concocted. They were cream cheese, pineapple and coconut balls. She left Tatro’s house around 7:15 p.m. Monday.
“She was always kind,” Tatro said. “I knew them for over 40 years. I watched their children grow up.”
Tatro said she was awakened early Tuesday by what sounded like a loud shotgun noise.
“I thought to myself, ‘Who is hunting at this hour?’” said Tatro. “When I looked outside, the sky was just red. The whole house was on fire.”
Tatro said she couldn’t believe her longtime friends were gone.
“It’s really hard at night when you look outside and there are no lights,” she said. “It’s just so dark.”
John Bordeleau, who lives across the street, said Linda Guyette was his bus driver when he was a kid. He and Wayne Guyette talked all the time, especially about NASCAR. Wayne Guyette’s favorite driver was Kyle Busch.
Bordeleau said his daughter heard an explosion Tuesday. By the time he got outside, the home was in flames.
“The flames were higher than the tree tops,” he said.
While the contents of the home were destroyed, nearby trees, a picnic table and a car were left relatively unscathed.
Bordeleau and his wife, Claudia, have the Guyettes’ black Labrador-shepherd mix dog, Houdini. The dog was the lone survivor of the fire; three other dogs and a cat perished in the blaze.
Claudia Bordeleau said Wayne Guyette was like a father to her. She said the Guyettes were generous and loving people.
“They would give you the shirts off their backs,” she said. “Even if that meant that they would go without. That’s the kind of people they were.”