Fire destroys Hall Tavern Farm sawmill, forklift in Charlemont

  • Owner Jared Bellows and former owner Jay Healy survey the remains of the sawmill building, standing in the foundation at Hall Tavern Farm in Charlemont that was leveled by an early morning fire on Monday. The lumber storage building in the background was scorched, but was mostly saved by the efforts of firefighters. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Owner Jared Bellows talks with Charlemont firefighter Ryan Martin and Fire Chief Dennis Annear at the scene of an early morning fire that destroyed the sawmill building at Hall Tavern Farm in Charlemont. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Former owner Jay Healy at the scene of an early morning fire that leveled the sawmill building at Hall Tavern Farm in Charlemont. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • An early morning fire destroyed the sawmill building at Hall Tavern Farm in Charlemont, but firefighters were able to save dried lumber in a storage building that was badly damaged. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • An early morning fire destroyed the sawmill building at Hall Tavern Farm in Charlemont. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Owner Jared Bellows and former owner Jay Healy at the scene of an early morning fire that destroyed the sawmill building at Hall Tavern Farm in Charlemont. Behind them is what is left of the boom forklift. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • An early morning fire destroyed the sawmill building at Hall Tavern Farm in Charlemont. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • An early morning fire destroyed the sawmill building, left, at Hall Tavern Farm in Charlemont, but firefighters were able to save dried lumber in a storage building that was badly damaged. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 4/19/2021 5:29:37 PM

CHARLEMONT — The large single-story sawmill at Hall Tavern Farm is a total loss following a Monday morning fire, the owner said.

Jared Bellows said he spotted the blaze and called 911 at around 4:45 a.m., though someone driving by had already called. He said the destruction off of Route 2 is devastating because virtually all work was conducted inside the mill, and the company’s forklift, along with the sawmill, was also destroyed in the fire.

“We can’t do anything without it,” he said.

At roughly 1:15 p.m., Bellows said he had not gotten a chance to contact his insurance company and he wasn’t sure what would be covered.

“I have no idea,” he said.

In addition to the Charlemont Fire Department, firefighters responded from Colrain, Buckland, Shelburne Falls, Shelburne, Hawley, Conway, Rowe, Greenfield and Whitingham, Vt.

Charlemont firefighter Ryan Martin, who was first to arrive on scene, said the structure was fully involved, with flames shooting 20 feet above the roof. Tankers shuttled water from the impound above the dam on the Deerfield River at the Charlemont/Buckland town line. Route 2 remained open during the fire.

Late Monday afternoon Bellows walked the foundation with Charlemont Fire Chief Dennis Annear, passing the twisted charred sawmill and bent circular saw blade. Annear said the origin of the fire is under investigation.

Nearby, a large storage building parallel to the mill and separated by a driveway was severely scorched, but firefighters were able to save the majority of the structure and lumber inside.

All the equipment and tools inside the mill were destroyed, including some “huge beams just milled from ancient trees,” former owner Jay Healy added as he leaned against a pickup and surveyed the damage.

According to Hall Tavern Farm’s website, the sawmill specializes in wide plank flooring and other wood products. It also handles custom sawing, kiln-drying and planning. The property spans 500 acres, and the farm has twice been voted Massachusetts Tree Farm of the Year.

The farm was owned for roughly 100 years by the Healy family, having been founded in the 1920s by John J. Healy. His grandson, Jay Healy, was the most recent family member to own it. Jay Healy served in the state Legislature for 20 years, was on the Agricultural Commission for about 15 years and worked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture as Massachusetts state director for five years.

Bellows, a longtime friend and Hall Tavern Farm worker, now owns the business. He is also the police chief in Charlemont and Hawley.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262. Photographer Paul Franz contributed to this story.



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