Townsend Man Gets 4 Years For Historic Vandyke-Heath House Arson

A Superior Court judge sentenced a Townsend man to 4 years in prison for setting fire to his home, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. He had been facing 18 years.

In November 2017, 42-year-old Christopher Gregg argued with one of his children, trashed her bedroom, and threw her belongings out of the window.

Once everyone left the house, Gregg set fire to the home, known as the Vandyke-Heath House, and a nearby barn, according to prosecutors. The fires also damaged a truck parked close by.

In 2018 Superior Court Judge Paul Wallace ended Gregg’s first trial. Days into the August trial, Gregg’s attorney argued that material relied on by an expert witness had failed to make it into the defense team’s hands. Wallace agreed and declared a mistrial.

At his second trial in December 2018, a jury convicted Gregg of 2 counts of arson in the second degree and 1 count of arson in the third degree.

Gregg could have walked with time served if he had taken a plea deal offered by the state prior to the first trial.

Original Story

Townsend – Just after 8:30 yesterday morning the Historic Vandyke-Heath House in Townsend burst into flames. A neighbor, Chris Shaffner, that lives near the historic house said she heard an explosion and ran outside to see what was going on.

“The house was in flames”, said Shaffer. She quickly grabbed her phone and called 911 to report the fire. “As I was on the phone with 911, reporting the fire, I noticed that the barn was now on fire as well” added Shaffer.

As fire crews began to respond to the scene she began to document the fire scene with her camera. These are some of the images that Shaffer shared with First State Update:


Townsend – The Delaware State Fire Marshal’s Office has arrested a 41-year-old, Christopher M. Gregg, on two counts of Arson 2nd degree for the fire this morning on the 300 block of Vandyke Greenspring Rd. He has been arraigned and committed to the Howard Young Correctional Facility in lieu $25,000 secured bail

The Delaware State Fire Marshal’s Office has said that they have determined that this morning’s house fire in Townsend, DE. was Arson.

The Townsend Fire Company responded to the 300 block of Vandyke Greenspring Rd. shortly after 8:00 am for a report of a house fire. Upon arrival the Fire Department found heavy smoke and fire coming from the residence and a barn located on the property. The fire quickly went to 3 alarms calling several neighboring companies from New Castle and Kent Counties to the scene.
Deputy Fire Marshal’s were called to the scene and have determined that the fire to be an Arson of both the house and the barn.

The fire caused approximately $250,000 dollars in damage to the residence. No Fire Department personnel were reported injured. Residents are being assisted by the Red Cross of Delmarva.

Christopher Gregg

The Vandyke-Heath House, also known as the Jacob C. Vandyke House was built in three stages. The earliest section dates to the late-18th century, and was a 1 1/2-story, three bay log structure measuring 16 feet by 21 feet. It was raised to a full two stories in the mid-19th century and a 2 1/2-story, two-bay frame wing was added. A two-story, two bay addition was built in the late-19th century. It is in the Federal style.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.

Original Breaking Post

Townsend – Just after 8:30 this morning fire Crews from Townsend, Middletown, Odessa, Port Penn, Smyrna, Delaware City, Kent County, Galena MD and Cecilton Fire Company responded to the 300 block of Vandyke Greenspring Road for reports of barn on fire.

It’s believed that responding crews found the house and the barn both fully involved upon arrival. At some point during the blaze a third alarm was struck and command called for defensive operations. Firefighters were ordered not enter the structures.

At the time of posting 11:00 crews are still working the scene.

If you took a photo/video of this fire you can message them to us on Facebook. Do not send us photos that you found online. We cannot use them.

Image Credits: NPS, Delaware State Fire Marshal

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