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Firefighters battle blaze on Elm Street in Greenfield

  • Firefighters use a sledge to break the slate roof to vent a house fire on Elm Street in Greenfield on Tuesday afternoon. July 3, 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—

  • Firefighters prepare to enter a burning house on Elm Street in Greenfield on Tuesday afternoon. July 3, 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—

  • A firefighter looks out a window at burning eaves of a house fire on Elm Street in Greenfield on Tuesday afternoon. July 3, 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—

  • Firefighters look for hot spots at a house fire on Elm Street in Greenfield on Tuesday afternoon. July 3, 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Firefighters battle a house fire on Elm Street in Greenfield on Tuesday afternoon. July 3, 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Fire damaged rear of house fire on Elm Street in Greenfield on Tuesday afternoon. July 3, 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Firefighters battle a house fire on Elm Street in Greenfield on Tuesday afternoon. July 3, 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz



Recorder Staff
Tuesday, July 03, 2018

GREENFIELD — An Elm Street home to a family of seven caught fire Tuesday afternoon, requiring the assistance of 20 towns to quell a blaze residents and nearby neighbors said stemmed from the first-floor kitchen.

The mother at the brick house, which was built in 1904 and is owned by the Greenfield Housing Authority, was cooking when she took a moment to put some of her children to sleep upstairs. When she came back downstairs, the fire had started, her son, Cojan Otniel, said.

Cojan, 21, and his 22-year-old brother were not home when the fire started around 2:30 p.m., but their father, mother and three siblings, ages 2, 5 and 6, were there. Cojan’s father, who doesn’t speak much English, relayed the information to his son.

Everyone was able to get out of the home without sustaining injuries, Cojan said.

Greenfield Fire Chief Robert Strahan was not able to confirm these details by midafternoon. He said the home has extensive fire and water damage, but could not comment on whether it is a total loss. The brick structure itself was still standing.

He said he expected the crews from across the county to be at the scene for awhile. Two firefighters were treated for heat-related injuries, although no one was sent to the hospital. The father in the family was also treated for heat-related issues by first responders.

Neighbors show support

The fire happened on one of the hottest days of the year. As flames could still be seen through the roof, the temperature was in the mid-90s with a real-feel above 100 degrees. With smoke rising above the home, families around the neighborhood came out and watched as several crews battle the flames.

The home sits directly in front of Greenfield Gardens housing developments. Neighbor Marina Pirozhkov said she saw the smoke billowing from the bike trail that runs down the road along the Green River. Her mother said she saw the fire initially in the kitchen and then spread upward.

The Pirozhkovs expressed deep remorse for the family’s home. It was also their home, for about 15 years, before they moved next door three or four years ago. That’s around when the Otniel’s moved in.

“This is my childhood home and I’m watching it burn down,” Pirozhkov said.

Heavy response

Two ladder trucks, one from Turners Falls and one from South Deerfield, were used to get to the attic.

Fire departments on Elm Street included: Greenfield, Turners Falls, South Deerfield, Deerfield, Shelburne Center, Shelburne Falls, Orange, Erving, Gill, Northfield, Colrain, Bernardston, Leverett and Brattleboro and Guilford, Vt. Providing coverage at other stations included crews from: Charlemont, Shutesbury, Templeton, and Vernon and Westminster, Vt. Providing ambulance coverage included: Medcare, South County EMS, Colrain EMS, Northfield EMS and Rescue Inc. of Vermont.

The Massachusetts Department of Fire Services and Special Operations rehab team was present as well as a representative from the state Fire Marshall’s Office.

The electricity line in front of the home was disconnected by the power company.

Firefighters rotated in and out as Strahan worked to keep firefighters as cool as possible. Portable wireless fans, bags of ice and coolers of water were brought in to help.

“They’re working hard and we’re rotating crews as quickly as we can,” Strahan said.

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:

jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264