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Late-night fire at Barnhardt Manufacturing Co. prompts multi-town response

  • Emergency crews respond to a fire at Barnhardt Manufacturing Company, which manufactures bleached cotton fiber products, at 247 Main Road in Colrain, on Tuesday, May 1, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Emergency crews respond to a fire at Barnhardt Manufacturing Company, which manufactures bleached cotton fiber products, at 247 Main Road in Colrain, on Tuesday, May 1, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Emergency crews respond to a fire at Barnhardt Manufacturing Company, which manufactures bleached cotton fiber products, at 247 Main Road in Colrain, on Tuesday, May 1, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little



Recorder Staff
Wednesday, May 02, 2018

COLRAIN — A late-night fire could have turned into a frightening event for some factory workers at a cotton-bleaching plant.

The call went out to the Colrain Fire Department shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday, when employees at the 247 Main Road factory, Barnhardt Manufacturing Company, reported black smoke and alarms going on in one of the factory’s several buildings.

There were no injuries, and officials said the fire was largely contained by 11 p.m. Still, they said it would take a few hours to fully extinguish the fire, which had spread to a second building through industrial pipes.

According to Colrain Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Worden, around 10 or 11 area fire departments responded because of the potential for flammable materials to ignite.

“There’s been numerous fires here,” Worden said.

At least Colrain, Shelburne, Greenfield, Buckland and Charlemont were still on the scene past 11 p.m.

“The fire started in that building behind us,” Worden said. “Then it spread into the main building through those pipes.”

Worden said the cotton-processing machines work with 500 to 600 lbs of material at a time, and that it doesn’t take much to start a fire.

The fire likely started in a machine in the building in the back of the property, which Worden indicated, then traveled through the long metal pipes into a machine in the main building, where it was contained.

“It could be a piece of metal (in the machine where the fire started), and you’ve got the fans blowing,” Worden said. “All it takes with cotton is a little bit of friction.”

Not a drill

According to employee Phillip Miner, the fire started during a shift change. There were about 20 people in the building.

“I don’t know what it was. There was so much smoke I couldn’t get in,” Miner said.

Employee Tim Tatro said emergency training personnel were at the factory Tuesday, and that he and many of his co-workers probably thought the fire alarms were initially a drill.

Then, Tatro discovered there was a fire after calling colleagues in a different part of the building.

“I ended up calling the boiler room,” Tatro said. “We went back in there and by then it was too late, just black. It goes up quick.”

Reach David McLellan at dmclellan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.