One tenant transported to hospital after multi-alarm fire at duplex on Third Street in Turners Falls

Recorder Staff
Last modified: Wednesday, January 27, 2016
*Archive Article*
TURNERS FALLS — When Mike Thorn of Turners Falls took his trash out around 9 a.m. Wednesday, nothing seemed amiss in the building next door. Fifteen minutes later, it was an entirely different story — a fire had broken out in the duplex at 23 and 25 Third St. and begun to engulf the building.

“I got a call maybe 15 minutes later that the building next door was on fire, and I looked out my window and could see it,” Thorn said as he monitored the response from the parking lot behind Hubie’s Tavern. “It went up quick.”

By 9:45 a.m., a plume of thick, white smoke could be seen billowing above downtown Turners Falls from Turners Falls Road.

Firefighters from Turners Falls, Montague Center, Greenfield, Northfield, Brattleboro, Vt., Conway, South Deerfield, Gill and other communities pounded the multi-alarm blaze with hoses from three sides, sending water streaming down the street. That turned the surface of the road to slush in the 14 degree weather, prompting firefighters to throw down a layer of sand for safety.

Heavy smoke poured from underneath the roof and out the front doors, and flames could be seen periodically licking the sides and back of the building.

Turners Falls Deputy Chief John Zellmann said one person, a tenant of the building, was injured and taken to Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, but couldn’t say the individual’s name or the extent of the injuries. Everyone was believed to have escaped the building as of 10:30 a.m., according police and fire personnel on scene.

Zellmann said Wednesday the cause of the fire was unknown but will be investigated.

Montague Police closed Avenue A from Second Street to Third Street, but only the involved building had utility service cut, Zellmann said. The fire did not appear to have spread to any other nearby homes or buildings.

Around 10 a.m., command ordered all firefighters out of the duplex, and by 11:30 a.m. firefighters began re-entering and overhauling the building. The flames gutted the building to the point where it was possible to see the back parking lot from Third Street.

“There’s extensive damage,” Zellmann said. “Heavy fire damage.”

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency also responded with a rehabilitation truck.

Jon Nelson, another neighbor, told a story similar to Thorn’s, speaking to the speed with which the building went up in flames.

“Seemed like it went from nothing to fire in a matter of 10 to 15 minutes,” Nelson said. “I went out to the park and there was nothing, but by the time I got back there were a bunch of fire trucks already.”

Getting access to fire hydrants appeared to be difficult in battling the blaze, which was at the western end of the street. At least three hydrants were used in the response, Zellmann said, at least one of which had to be dug out of a snow bank by police officers before it could be used.

Montague Highway Department superintendent Tom Bergeron said the responsibility for clearing fire hydrants in the winter lies with the town Water Department, and Water Department superintendent Michael Brown said it’s supposed to be done by the owner of the property that the hydrant is in front of.

“Normally the property owner is responsible for it, but that doesn’t always happen,” Brown said. He said the town has no official bylaw requiring residents or property owners to clear hydrants of snow, but there are bylaws that prohibit throwing snow on top of them or pushing it in front of them.

According to the town assessor’s property records data, the property at 25 3rd Street is owned by Amanda Pitchford. She was not immediately available Wednesday.

You can reach Tom Relihan at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264
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