Fire destroys Cummington couple’s cabin, kills dog and two cats
CUMMINGTON — An early evening fire Saturday destroyed a young couple’s home in Cummington.
“It was a total loss,” Cummington Chief Bernie Forgea said Sunday. “By the time we arrived there was a glow in the sky and it was fully involved, there was nothing that could be saved.”
The cause of the fire, which killed a dog and two cats but injured no one, is not yet known. It remains under investigation.
Firefighters from several area departments responded to the blaze at at 556 Stage Road, including Cummington, Goshen, Worthington, Windsor, Plainfield, Ashfield and Chesterfield.
According to Forgea, homeowners Eric and Monica Driver were not at home when the fire broke out. Neighbors reported it around 7:30 p.m.
The Drivers’ home, a cabin, was located a few hundred feet off the road with no driveway. “Even if they had a nice plowed driveway, it wouldn’t have helped in this situation as the cabin was just too far gone by the time we arrived,” Forgea said.
Friday and Saturday’s winter storm had just dropped upwards of 20 inches of snow. Strong winds Saturday night plagued firefighters and caused substantial snow drifts. With snow and ice covering ponds and streams, access to water was limited, forcing fire tankers from surrounding departments to shuttle water to the scene.
Fortunately, prior to the snowstorm, the Cummington water department had made sure its water reserve tank in town was filled, so fire tankers could draw water from there.
“Our main role was to provide water and personnel,” said Goshen Fire Capt. Bob Labrie. “Deep snow surrounding the house made it challenging to haul hoses downhill from the road. It was very hard to maneuver,” he said.
Forgea said that frigid temperatures also hindered firefighting, freezing up equipment on one of the tankers.
“I have to give special credit to all of those departments that showed up,” Forgea said. “Most of them had already been up for 36 hours dealing with the snow, but there were no one complaints and they all did their jobs well,” he said.
Forgea described the Drivers as a young couple with a baby who were “just starting out in life” and had no insurance.
“It breaks your heart when something like this happens. They lost everything,” Forgea said, adding that he believes the family is staying with relatives in Amherst.
Labrie said the family returned to the home while firefighters were working unsuccessfully to combat the blaze.
“I can’t imagine coming home to see nothing but a street filled with fire trucks,” he said.
Eliza Dragon, who works with the Cummington Family Center, is trying to arrange assistance for the Drivers.
“The family is in shock mode right now,” Dragon said. “It may take a couple of days to put something together. At this point we are not even sure what they need, but we want to help,” she said.
Forgea emphasized the importance of clearing snow from around fire hydrants in the winter and said he has sent out an automated call to town residents asking them to “adopt” a fire hydrant.
“We want to do all we can to protect people. If an individual or a group can be responsible for digging out a hydrant, just 3 feet by 3 feet, that would be an immense help,” he said.
Forgea also stressed the importance of having working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.