Five residents displaced, treated for smoke inhalation from Bernardston blaze

  • Emergency responders fill West Mountain Road in Bernardston shortly after a second-alarm house fire was deemed under control by the Bernardston Fire Department. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Emergency responders fill West Mountain Road in Bernardston shortly after a second-alarm house fire was deemed under control by the Bernardston Fire Department. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Fire equipment and personal belongings on a front lawn on West Mountain Road in Bernardston. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Dispatchers received the call to sent personnel to 91 West Mountain Road in Bernardston for a fire just before midnight on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer
Published: 9/22/2022 11:33:16 AM

BERNARDSTON — All five occupants of a West Mountain Road home were hospitalized due to smoke inhalation after a kitchen fire set the house ablaze late Wednesday night.

Dispatchers received the call to send personnel to 91 West Mountain Road “just prior to midnight,” according to Fire Chief Peter Shedd. Emergency responders from Franklin County and southern Vermont found the fire burning through the first and second floors upon arrival.

Two adults and three children, the two-story building’s only occupants, were transported to Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, Shedd said. According to Bernardston Police Sgt. John Richardson, Officer Jordan Zukowski, who arrived at 11:36 p.m. and was the first responder on scene, carried the mother of the involved children out of the house.

“(Zukowski) entered the rear screened-in porch, hearing someone inside, despite not having protective equipment, and moved her to the front lawn,” Richardson wrote in an email.

“She had the smoke deep in her lungs,” Shedd said, adding that the woman was found semi-conscious on the floor of the kitchen upon Zukowski’s arrival. “She was definitely in the thick of it for a while.”

The father and three children had gotten outside and were standing to the rear of the porch, with a toddler yelling into the porch to alert Zukowski to the woman’s location, according to Richardson.

The hospital reported that two of the three children tested for high carbon monoxide levels, according to Shedd. No firefighters were injured during the response.

While the fire was determined to have started in the kitchen, Shedd said the exact cause remains under investigation. He said the department plans to speak with the involved family to gain a better understanding.

“We’re not 100% sure,” Shedd said of what started the fire. “We still need to talk to the residents to see if they were cooking.”

After receiving “pretty extensive damage to the first and second floors,” the house has been rendered “uninhabitable,” Shedd reported.

The first firefighters arrived at 11:38 a.m., according to logs cited by Richardson. Responding county fire departments included Bernardston, Northfield, Greenfield, Turners Falls, South Deerfield and Montague Center. Vermont’s Brattleboro, Vernon and Guilford fire departments also provided aid. Northfield EMS deployed two ambulances. Other responding agencies included the Bernardston Police Department, Massachusetts State Police, the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Massachusetts Incident Management Assist Team field communications unit. Shedd said he began dismissing assisting agencies roughly two hours after the fire started.

“I believe we were under control at around 1:30 a.m., or something like that,” Shedd said. “Shortly after, we started releasing the crews.”

Hydrants were used for all water pumped.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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