Cause of fatal fire under investigation

  • Emergency crews respond to a structure fire at 178 Frizzle Road in Leyden on Monday. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

Recorder Staff
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

LEYDEN — The cause of the fire that resulted in a death Monday afternoon remains under investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office. But investigators “may not be able to determine the origin and cause of the fire, given the lack of witness accounts and the total destruction of the home,” said Jennifer Meith, spokeswoman for the state fire marshal.

She said the hilltop home at 178 Frizzell Road, about three-quarters of a mile from the main roadway, did not have a sprinkler system.

Also, given the remote location, it is not known how long the fire had been burning before firefighters were called.

The name of the woman who died in the fire has not yet been released by the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, because of its policy to wait 24 hours until relatives of the deceased have been notified.

Leyden Fire Chief Matthew Muka said the fire was called in by a passerby, who spotted the plume of smoke rising over the horizon.

When the Fire Department arrived, said Muka, “the whole house was involved and had partially collapsed.”

Also the fire spread to a parked car; it also ignited a propane tank on the house, causing an explosion.

Muka confirmed the lengthy driveway and said many fire departments were providing mutual aid from the main road, shuttling water up to the scene.

Besides the Leyden Fire Department, departments providing mutual aid included: Bernardston, Colrain, Deerfield, Greenfield, Northfield, Shelburne Falls, and Turners Falls. From Vermont, the Brattleboro, Guilford and Vernon departments responded.

Also a wildfire crew from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Bureau of Forest Fire Control (District 9) provided mutual aid, combating a brush fire.

Muka said firefighters were at the scene until about 9:30 p.m. Then Muka returned at midnight, and firefighters made a third check around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, finding and extinguishing hot spots in the brush.

He did not know the value of the home, but said it had last been purchased in 2015.