Firefighters battle blazes in two towns
By Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER | December 03,2012
Len Emery Photo
A backhoe operated by Gurney Bros demolishes the post fire remains of the house on Clinton Street. There were no injuries in the fire and the cause of the blaze is still unknown.
Two early-morning fires in Springfield and Ludlow left a pair of families homeless.
Firefighters from 11 towns were called out to assist in battling the blazes. But despite their efforts, the single-family home at 285 Clinton St. in Springfield was completely destroyed and a log home at 222 Andover Road was gutted by flames.
No one was injured in either fire, according to the fire chiefs in the two towns.
But two young four-member families were left without homes. The American Red Cross provided temporary lodging and other assistance to both families, the chiefs said.
The first fire was reported in Springfield where firefighters were called out at 3:30 a.m. by homeowners who awakened to the smell of smoke and went downstairs to find flames on the ground floor.
Two adults and two children made it out of the house unscathed but the building was beyond hope of being saved when firefighters arrived.
“It was engulfed. About three-quarters of the structure was on fire,” said Springfield Fire Capt. Sean Foulois.
Firefighters from Charlestown, N.H., Bellows Falls and Chester were called to the scene while fire crews from Ascutney and West Weathersfield were called to the Springfield fire station.
But despite the resources available, Springfield Fire Chief Russ Thompson said the focus of the crews was to save a building next door to the home.
“It was a defensive fire. It was just going so much that there was no way to save it, but there was a house next door about six feet away. The first crew roused the people in the other house and our efforts were focused on saving that house,”
In addition to fighting the flames, firefighters struggled with icy conditions that made it difficult for some crews to get to the fire, Thompson said.
The flames weren’t completely doused until after sunrise and the remains of the home were tilting so much that the chief said he called for an excavator to demolish the structure.
The homeowners, whose names Thompson said he couldn’t recall, were provided emergency shelter at a local hotel, he said.
In Ludlow, Fire Chief Peter Kolenda said firefighters were called out at about 4:30 a.m. by the homeowners on Andover Road who were awakened by smoke detector alarms.
“It definitely could have been worse. One of the bedrooms was right at the top of the stairs the fire was racing up,” the chief said. “The detectors definitely helped.”
The two adults and two children made it out of the house safely and, unlike the fire in Springfield, the cabin wasn’t engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.
“They even got a hamster out,” the chief said.
The family, whose names Kolenda did not know, was receiving assistance from friends and members of the Cavendish Baptist Church, the chief said.
But the chief said the high volume of combustible materials in the home, combined with the fire’s quick spread from the basement into the upper stories, allowed the flames to gut the home before firefighters could extinguish them.
“The main section is gutted,” the chief said. “I guess they could rebuild but it’s a lot of damage,” he said.
It took firefighters from Ludlow, Proctorsville, Mount Holly and Plymouth more than two hours to extinguish the flames. Firefighters from Shrewsbury were also called to oversee the station.
Neither fire was deemed suspicious and both had their origins in faulty wood-heating systems. In Springfield, an unknown problem with a wood stove was suspected while a pellet stove in the basement of the Ludlow home was the suspected cause of the log cabin fire.