New Salem fire destroys storage building on 202

NEW SALEM — Thirteen fire departments weren’t enough to save a structure on Route 202 Sunday.

New Salem Fire Chief Joseph Cuneo said firefighters responded to 837 Daniel Shays Highway to find the building, an unoccupied storage building and workshop, fully engulfed.

“Basically the structure was completely gone, it was just a question of us getting the fire out,” Cuneo said.

The call came in at 3:53 a.m., Cuneo said, and he did not declare the fire under control until 9:22 a.m., releasing mutual aid at 2 p.m.

By that time, Orange firefighters had already been called away to a two-alarm fire in their town.

No one was in the building and none of the 68 firefighters who fought the blaze were hurt, Cuneo said, despite the icy conditions created underfoot by the water brought in by tankers and the extreme cold.

The two-story, wood frame building with metal trusses was destroyed, along with its contents.

“Tools, a tractor, all kind of things associated with a construction contractor,” Cuneo said. “I don’t believe it was well insured.”

The cause of the fire is unknown.

The Orange, Athol, Erving, Shutesbury, Pelham, Northfield, Royalston, Warwick, Phillipston, Montague Center, Wendell and Petersham departments responded to help New Salem firefighters.

State Police from the Athol barracks reduced traffic on Route 202, or the Daniel Shays Highway, to a single lane during the fire.

You can reach Chris Curtis at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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