Son charged with arson
Fire fighters from several area towns were unable to save two barns on Hatchery Rd in Montague in the early Wednesday moring. Recorder/Paul Franz
Lisa and Bob Adams are silhouetted as they watch their barns burn early Wednesday moring on Hatchery Rd in Montague. Recorder/Paul Franz
The melted siding at 16 Hatchery Rd in Montague from heat from barns buring across the road. Recorder/Paul Franz
What is left of two barns at 16 Hatchery Rd in Montague after an early morning fire leveled them and melted the siding of the family's home. Recorder/Paul Franz
Fire fighters are silhouetted agains Montague barn fire Wednesday morning. Recorder/Paul Franz
What was left of two barns at 16 Hatchery Road in Montague on Wednesday morning after an alleged arson.
MONTAGUE CENTER — Lisa Adams said she awoke early Wednesday morning to the sound of a bang, then tires pulling away.
She couldn’t see a fire but knew something was wrong, and found one of the two barns immediately across the narrow street from her family’s temporary modular home filled with flames to the height of the nearby Jersey barriers blocking off the abandoned Greenfield Cross Road.
The fire destroyed both barns but did only minor damage to the home at 16 Hatchery Road, where Lisa and Robert Adams and two children slept. No people or animals were hurt.
Later that day, Montague police arrested Cody L. Adams, 22, of 112 Conway St., Apt. 2, Greenfield, son of Robert and stepson of Lisa Adams.
Detective Brian Dobosz of the Montague Police Department said he would rather not comment on the motive and the incident is still under investigation.
“His vehicle was seen in the area and his license plate taken,” Dobosz said, and confirmed the witness was a state trooper responding to the fire.
Dobosz said Cody Adams is charged with three counts of arson, two for the barns and the third because the home started to catch. He was held on $25,000 cash bail Wednesday evening, according to the office of the state Fire Marshal, to be arraigned Thursday morning in Greenfield District Court.
“It’s devastating to all of us,” Lisa Adams said of the arrest, and could not explain the alleged crime. “I don’t know. Drugs?” Adams said.
Earlier that day, the cause of the fire was under investigation. Lisa Adams said it was a damp night with a stiff wind and there was no electricity or fuel lines to the barns, no hay or other combustibles to catch fire quickly.
Wednesday afternoon, Adams was waiting on an investigator from the fire marshal’s office to arrive with specially trained scent tracking dogs and hadn’t yet been out to the back of the property to survey the damage, but both barns were completely leveled, the wooden wreckage draped over the skeleton of a tractor and other equipment.
“And we just moved in October, so all our personal belongings were in there,” she said.
Robert and Lisa Adams are trying to build an organic farm on the property.
In addition to the children’s toys, the clothing and other belongings, the barns stored tools for Robert Adams’ contracting business and two freezers full of meat he hunted and berries they harvested last year.
A second tractor was out for repairs and survived the fire, Adams said she didn’t know yet if the plow equipment behind the barns had survived.
The barns were not insured.
In hindsight, Adams said she is almost glad she didn’t settle the insurance last week as she had planned, after some earlier negotiations with the insurance company. Insurance followed almost immediately by a possible arson wouldn’t look great.
The couple has been rebuilding the farm, and they have torn down the old farm house to rebuild. The post-and-beam barns dated back to the 1800s, Adams said.
Elements of the old house saved for the new, as well as lumber milled from trees on the property for a farm stand, were also lost.
The fire could reportedly be seen from Greenfield. Montague Center Fire Chief John Greene said he called in a second alarm while still on the road after logging the call at 1:53 a.m., bringing in mutual aid from surrounding departments.
“I live about a mile and a half from there and as I was driving I could see the glow in the sky, so I ordered a second alarm while I was en route,” Greene said.
One barn was collapsing and had caught the other on fire by the time firefighters arrived, and with no hydrants nearby they concentrated on protecting the home until tankers could begin shuttling water from the nearest hydrants, almost two miles away on Turners Falls Road, Greene said.
“Basically at that point it was just containing it to where they were,” Greene said.
The siding of the modular home began to buckle and curl away, but the structure survived.
Adams said she must have called 911 four times as the fire grew and the side of the home started to melt. Montague Center is covered by a volunteer call force.
“I’m sure that it seemed a lot longer than it actually was,” Adams said.
You can reach Chris Curtis at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-772-0261, ext. 257