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Plainfield blaze proves difficult to extinguish

  • GAZETTE  PHOTO<br/>This farmhouse at 25 Pleasant St., Plainfield, was badly damaged in a hard-to-put-out fire Friday. Officials Monday said the cause was accidental.

    GAZETTE PHOTO
    This farmhouse at 25 Pleasant St., Plainfield, was badly damaged in a hard-to-put-out fire Friday. Officials Monday said the cause was accidental. Purchase photo reprints »

  • GAZETTE  PHOTO<br/>This farmhouse at 25 Pleasant St., Plainfield, was badly damaged in a hard-to-put-out fire Friday. Officials Monday said the cause was accidental.

    GAZETTE PHOTO
    This farmhouse at 25 Pleasant St., Plainfield, was badly damaged in a hard-to-put-out fire Friday. Officials Monday said the cause was accidental. Purchase photo reprints »

  • GAZETTE  PHOTO<br/>This farmhouse at 25 Pleasant St., Plainfield, was badly damaged in a hard-to-put-out fire Friday. Officials Monday said the cause was accidental.
  • GAZETTE  PHOTO<br/>This farmhouse at 25 Pleasant St., Plainfield, was badly damaged in a hard-to-put-out fire Friday. Officials Monday said the cause was accidental.

One person home when the fire broke out at Manda Farm, 25 Pleasant St., escaped without injury. Plainfield firefighter Bryan Hawthorne said Michael Kalagher, partner of homeowner Anna Hanchett, was at home at the time.

“The good news is we are still alive, all the animals are still alive and the rest is just stuff,” Kalagher said Monday.

According to Kalagher, the fire started in the wood stove chimney between the first and second floor of the 1825 house farmhouse.

“When the first responders arrived, there were flames pouring out of the middle and both ends of the roof,” he said.

The entire second story house will need to be replaced.

“The wonderful Plainfield volunteer firefighters were there 11 minutes after our 911 call and saved many possessions on half of the second floor and the downstairs structures,” Kalagher said. “Had the first responders been five minutes later, we were told there would have not been much left to save.”

All day Saturday and throughout the weekend Kalagher said neighbors came in waves bringing food, work crews, supplies and offers of places to stay.

“We received an amazing amount of help from neighbors. It’s a great community and that is why we live here,” he said.

Kalagher estimated that repairs to the home will be upwards of $100,000.

“The insurance company said they would provide an onsite trailer for us to live in while renovations are being done,” he said.

The fire proved challenging for several Hilltown fire departments to get under control Friday evening after the Plainfield Fire Department was alerted to it around 8:30 p.m.

“When we arrived at the scene, the fire was already coming through the roof,” said Assistant Fire Chief David Alvord. “This was a very involved and difficult structure fire.”

The Plainfield Fire Department was first on the scene, but initially had only five firefighters combating the blaze.

“We are very short staffed here,” Alvord said. “But the Ashfield and Cummington departments responded shortly thereafter, and we eventually got up to 20 personnel working on the fire.”

Manda Farm is a small farm that raises organic pastured pigs, cattle, goats, chickens and turkeys and also sells eggs and vegetables.

Firefighters from Goshen, Worthington and Savoy also helped by covering for the departments that were at the scene.

According to Alvord, the fire started inside the house along the chimney line on the upper floors.

“The fire was on the second floor, and had spread all over the attic. There was also fire in between the metal roof and the wood underneath. We had to peel off the roof to get to it,” Alvord said.

Cold weather, with temperatures in the single digits, compounded the problem. “We were working in very difficult conditions. It was extremely cold out, and everything immediately started to ice up on the road and around the house,” Alvord said.

It took four hours to completely extinguish the fire and a multitude of hot spots in the attic. While the second floor and attic sustained major fire and water damage, the first floor of the home remained relatively unscathed.

“We haven’t seen a fire of this size in over three years. It’s actually remarkable that we were able to save as much as we did,” Alvord said. He said the firefighters “all did an excellent job.”

Fran Ryan can be reached at fryan.gazette@gmail.com.

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