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Burning brush said cause of Northampton house fire Tuesday

  • This fire at 25 Fort St. was ignited by a brush fire, according to a Northampton fire official. Submitted Photo—Ina Iansiti

  • This fire at 25 Fort St. was ignited by a brush fire, according to a Northampton fire official. Submitted Photo—Ina Iansiti

  • This fire at 25 Fort St. was ignited by a brush fire, according to a Northampton fire official. Submitted Photo—Ina Iansiti

  • This fire at 25 Fort St. was ignited by a brush fire, according to a Northampton fire official. Submitted Photo—Ina Iansiti



@BeraDunau
Tuesday, April 24, 2018

NORTHAMPTON – Emergency services quickly extinguished a fire at 25 Fort St. yesterday ignited by burning brush.

The fire was reported shortly after noon on Tuesday and appeared to be largely extinguished by 12:30 p.m.

It engulfed a shed connecting the house to the garage before spreading to the garage and a corner of the house.

No one was home at the time of the incident and no injuries were reported. According to the Northampton assessor’s office, Kim Mia C. and Michael G. Sullivan own the property. A dog, apparently frightened by the blaze, escaped from a nearby home but was later found, according to neighbors.

Deputy Fire Chief Timothy McQueston estimates the damage to be about $30,000. 

Kim Elefterakis, who was painting her house across the street around noon, said she started smelling smoke, which came from a neighboring yard, and then saw the blaze. “Where the fire started and the place that got damaged are two different properties,” she said.

 When she first saw the tall flames at 25 Fort St., it appeared as though the whole house was engulfed, she said.

Another neighbor, Michael Ahearn, said there was “just enough breeze” on Tuesday to send the embers over a fence to ignite the structure. He said the family living at 25 Front St., is away on vacation.

McQueston, who was at the scene, said police were the first to arrive and helped guide the firefighters. Fire “crews did a good job of quickly knocking it down,” he said.

He attributed the fire to brush burning although he could not say exactly where in the area it originated. He said that it is illegal to burn outdoors without a permit in Massachusetts. And, he said, due to windy conditions Tuesday, burning would not have been allowed.

“During the state-allowed burning season there are certain rules to follow before burning,” he said.  McQueston added that the lack of rain, dry leaves left over from the autumn, and wind gusts of up to 20 miles per hour made the Department of Conservation and Recreation deem Tuesday a ‘no burn’ day. His department received notice about the restriction in an email Tuesday morning, and said residents would have had to call into the department to learn of any specific daily restrictions.

“All those things make it more likely that you will have an uncontrollable burn,” he said. “Fires grow exponentially. It’s a very fast process from controlled to out of control.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.Sarah Robertson can be reached at srobertson@gazettenet.com.