AMHERST — A split-level home at 29 Tamarack Drive was severely damaged and two dogs lost their lives Wednesday after fire broke out, prompting a heavy response around noon from the Amherst Fire Department.
By the time firefighters got there, the fire, which started in a back corner on the upper level of the residence, had a good head start, said Assistant Fire Chief Lindsay Stromgren.
“Unfortunately, it looks like it had been burning for a while,” Stromgren said.
Residents were not home at the time of the fire, but the owners’ two dogs perished, Stromgren said.
Online town property records show the home has been owned by Anthony Bond and Anna Brightman-Bond since 2004. The Fire Department reported that their insurance agent was helping them find other accommodations.
Investigators determined that the fire likely started in a second-floor bedroom and was not considered suspicious. No cost estimate of the damage was available at press time. The blaze was reported shortly after noon by a passer-by.
Stromgren said he knew when he saw smoke pouring from the home when turning onto Stanley Street that damage would be extensive. “When we got here the fire was already coming through the roof,” Stromgren said.
Seven of the nine Amherst firefighters on duty responded, and the department issued a box alarm and called in off-duty firefighters. Four engines, a ladder truck and a rescue truck were supplemented with one Northampton fire engine and a Belchertown ambulance.
One firefighter was treated at the scene for heat exhaustion.
Firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze and then entered the home to make sure no victims were inside, before exiting the building and continuing to pour water onto it.
By around 1 p.m., most of the fire was out, after it appeared to have consumed much of the house, with a large section of the roof missing above where the fire started. Stromgren said police made several efforts to contact the owners, one of whom arrived shortly after 2 p.m.
William Brilhart, who lives next door at 27 Tamarack Drive, said he was upset for his friends and worried about the dogs.
Brilhart praised the firefighters for their work, preventing the fire from consuming a large tree in the front yard. “They did a great job,” Brilhart said.
The damaged residence is one of 41 homes in the Misty Meadows development.
Brilhart, who is the vice president of the Misty Meadows Property Association, said the fire was unusual activity for the quiet neighborhood.
Firefighters from South Hadley, Hadley and Pelham provided station coverage for Amherst and a South County EMS was available if any medical emergencies occurred. The American Red Cross was on the scene to provide drinks and snacks to the firefighters.
Scott Merzbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.