NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A chicken incubator is suspected as the cause of a devastating fire that destroyed a two-car garage and threatened a nearby home on Monday evening.
Firefighters were able to save the home at 1664 South Church St. owned by Paul and Diane Lesure but the garage is a total loss.
Acting Fire Lt. Matt Labonte said the garage was fully involved upon arrival. "So we made our intentions on cooling down the house," he said. "The house was on fire on the back side so we made our hose lines to the house so nothing got inside."
The Dutch-style garage had a full second story that had caved in within a half hour or so of the first calls at around 6 p.m. No one was home at the time and the owners came home to find the blaze already going. They were able to get their dog out of the house.
"It first came in as a garage fire in back of McCann School. We got a few calls confirming it on the way here," Fire Director Stephen Meranti said, adding that the focus was on limiting fire damage to the single-family home and then containing the garage blaze.
"He had a lot of equipment in there, motorcycles in there, a lot of stuff," he said. "We had guys working in both directions to keep it from spreading."
The blaze melted the vinyl siding off the north side and the back of the home and charring could be seen in the rear exterior. The ground was burned around the garage, which was separate from the house and set slightly back on the north side. All that was left of the garage was a pile of twisted metal and debris.
Loud pops could be heard as canisters of fuel or other materials exploded in the conflagration. The house is on the hillside just north of the Adams line but black smoke could be seen billowing from the blaze from the downtown.
Meranti said the cause has yet to be officially determined but he was leaning toward the incubator lamp because there was no other heat source in the building. It contained a woodstove but that hadn't been used in a while.
The Fire Department ran into some trouble with a hydrant located directly in front of the property. Meranti said there was a pressure issue and the Water Department was looking into it.
Firefighters were planning on a fire watch through the night in case the pile or house reignited. The power was shut off and the family was planning to go elsewhere for the night. North Adams Ambulance Service, Wire & Alarm, National Grid, and police also responded to the scene.
There was also a problem with spectators stopping on the road to watch the fire. The road is narrow with little room to pull off and the property was on a hill making access difficult. There was a lot of traffic at the time and those parking along the side made it difficult for the fire trucks to get in. Police shut down that section of road from Wheel Estates to the city line and began turning vehicles around.
"There were a lot of spectators here. We would really appreciate it if they would stay clear of the scene," Meranti said. "We had issues getting apparatus in because there were so many people parking to watch on both sides of the road. ... We need people to stay clear just keep on going."
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