Fire destroys house
A three-alarm fire early Sunday morning in Orange destroyed this house at 54 North Main St. The blaze left 11 people homeless. Purchase photo reprints »
Deputy Chief Willaim Gale, in the white helmet, guides his firefighters into the cellar checking for hot spots. Purchase photo reprints »
ORANGE — Firefighters say everyone escaped a three-alarm blaze at the 54 North Main St. home safely, where two were rescued from a balcony on Sunday.
Deputy Chief William Gale of the Orange Fire Department said they received a report of a fire at 3:14 a.m. and the first engine on scene found a heavy fire in the cellar area and already extending up into the first floor and toward the roof through the walls of the two-and-a-half story wood-frame house.
Gale said 11 were inside the single-family residence at the time of the fire, someone smelled smoke and he believes all but two were outside when firefighters arrived.
Two teenagers were trapped on a balcony at the front of the house and rescued by Mark Vitale of the Orange Police Department and firefighter Joseph P. Powling with a ladder from the first engine on scene, according to Gale.
Multiple agencies responded through mutual aid and firefighters had the fire under control between 6 and 7 Sunday morning, Gale said. The Orange Fire Department did not clear the scene until around noon.
The fire left the home uninhabitable and too unstable for the family to retrieve any possessions that may have survived, according to Gale.
Gale said the Red Cross had worked with the family and he believes they are staying with a neighbor for the next couple of days through their church.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal’s office.
Meanwhile, community members are working to help the now-homeless family, the MacDonalds, known for their Christian family band the MacDonald Family Singers.
Jeff Cole, owner of the Witty’s Funeral Home in Athol and Orange, said he heard about the family’s loss Sunday morning and is making the Witty’s Community Fund available to accept donations to the family, given that the banks are closed Sundays so a specific fund cannot be set up quickly.
“I saw it on Facebook this morning and I knew people would want to help, so I just made it be known that we would funnel checks through the community fund to help them,” Cole said.
Cole said checks can be made payable to the Witty’s Community Fund, with the MacDonald family in the memo line, and addressed to Witty’s Funeral Home 158 South Main St., Orange, MA 01364.
You can reach Chris Curtis at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257