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Ashfield twister?

Gusts send dock sailing into woods

ASHFIELD — An apparent mini-twister touched down in western Ashfield Wednesday night, knocking over a storage shed and blowing a wooden dock off a pond, across the roadway, and three-quarters of a mile into a neighbor’s woods.

Also, seven trees on that section of Watson Spruce Corner Road were toppled, blocking the road, and making it impassable, according to Highway Superintendent Thomas Poissant. He said Highway Department and Fire Department crews worked Wednesday night, after the storm, to clear the trees off the roadway.

Evelyn and Frank Vincenzo of Watson Spruce Corner Road were sitting down to dinner around 8 p.m., when Frank asked his wife, “Why does it sound like a freight train out there?”

“I said we’re going to get some big storms,” she replied. “The wind came up. Just like that.”

Then Mr. Vincenzo walked out on the front porch, she said, and saw that their shed was lying on its side.

“That’s when I noticed the entire dock was gone from our pond,” said Mrs. Vincenzo.

She said the wind was blowing so hard, it was all her husband could do to push the door shut. “We have five willow (trees) and they were all bowed down,” she remarked. “Today, they’re all back up.”

On Thursday morning, she followed a trail of fallen tree limbs into a field and found some of the debris from their 12-by-12-foot floating dock.

Nothing else in their yard was affected by wind.

Vincenzo was not worried about the damage, but wanted to know whether the unusual weather had been a small tornado or a microburst.

Police Chief Patrick Droney said it had appeared to have been a twister, because debris was strewn in all directions. “With a microburst, it would have gone in a straight line,” he said.

Droney was hoping to bring a meteorologist to the site, to determine what happened.

Elsewhere in Franklin County, there were few problems reported with the dramatic storm. National Grid reported there were a few power outages Wednesday night in Conway. Western Massachusetts Electric Co. said there were no major outages in Franklin County.

A lightning strike may have been responsible for a small brush fire in Shelburne Falls, near the Arms Cemetery. Shelburne Falls Firefighter Larry Bernier said the incident was reported Thursday around 9 a.m. and it appeared to have been started be a smoldering, fallen tree branch.

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