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Ashfield home consumed by fire

ASHFIELD — “The trucks are freezing up, and we can’t get water to the fire.”

Doug Field, the town’s emergency management director and former fire chief, described the problems zero-degree weather made for firefighters as they tried to save a home on Briar Hill Road Friday.

Several pump trucks froze and were unable to deliver water to the fire, at the top of a long driveway at 298 Briar Hill Road. Firefighters used portable water pumps, and warmed hoses with propane “salamander” heaters to try to get the water to flow.

Despite their efforts, the house was a total loss.

The fire was called in at about 2:20 p.m. Flames spread from the rear of the log cabin throughout the structure.

A series of explosions could be heard from the road, some louder than others. Though the source was not clear, many closed containers, from canned food to more volatile things like hair spray or propane, can explode from pressure that builds when they’re exposed to too much heat.

The residents were unhurt, according to Assistant Fire Chief Alan Taylor. Taylor said the homeowner was on scene, and upset, though unharmed.

One person was reportedly treated for smoke inhalation on scene.

The house is owned by Ronald DiDonato. According to the Registry of Deeds, DiDonato has owned the home since 1996.

A neighbor, who preferred not to be named, said three people lived in the log cabin — a couple and their adult son. The neighbor said the family had cats and dogs as pets. There was no word on the animals’ condition Friday night.

Field said the cause of the fire had not been determined Friday. The state Fire Marshal’s office was called in to investigate the fire.

More than 40 firefighters responded to the scene, from the Ashfield, Conway, Shelburne Falls, South Deerfield, Charlemont, Hawley, Goshen, Worthington, Chesterfield and Williamsburg fire departments.

The state Department of Fire Services responded to the scene with its rehab vehicle. The truck serves as a command post as well as a place for firefighters to warm up and rehydrate.

The Red Cross also responded to assist the firefighters and the homeowners alike. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office was called in to bring food to the crews working the fire.

At press time, firefighters were still on scene.

Several firefighters were called away from Ashfield when a second fire broke out less than four miles away in Conway. The smoke from both fires could be seen from the ground for miles.

You can reach David Rainville at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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