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Fire destroys Hadley home, detectors help save couple

  • CAROL LOLLIS<br/>This house at 75 Chmura Road in Hadley was destroyed by fire early Sunday. Norman Brown and his wife escaped uninjured after they were awakened by

    CAROL LOLLIS
    This house at 75 Chmura Road in Hadley was destroyed by fire early Sunday. Norman Brown and his wife escaped uninjured after they were awakened by Purchase photo reprints »

  • CAROL LOLLIS<br/>This house at 75 Chmura Road in Hadley was destroyed by fire early Sunday. Norman Brown and his wife escaped uninjured after they were awakened by smoke detectors.

    CAROL LOLLIS
    This house at 75 Chmura Road in Hadley was destroyed by fire early Sunday. Norman Brown and his wife escaped uninjured after they were awakened by smoke detectors. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Fire in Hadley on 75 Chmura Road.

    Fire in Hadley on 75 Chmura Road. Purchase photo reprints »

  • CAROL LOLLIS<br/>This house at 75 Chmura Road in Hadley was destroyed by fire early Sunday. Norman Brown and his wife escaped uninjured after they were awakened by
  • CAROL LOLLIS<br/>This house at 75 Chmura Road in Hadley was destroyed by fire early Sunday. Norman Brown and his wife escaped uninjured after they were awakened by smoke detectors.
  • Fire in Hadley on 75 Chmura Road.

Norman Brown and his wife were awakened by the smoke detectors in their 75 Chmura Road home shortly after 1 a.m. After seeing flames coming from the electrical panel in the cellar, they left the house and went to a neighbor’s home to call the fire department at 1:20 a.m.

“I believe those detectors helped saved their lives,” said Hadley Assistant Fire Chief Edward Dudkiewicz, urging other homeowners to check the batteries in their smoke detectors.

The house was engulfed in flames when 18 firefighters from the Hadley Fire Department arrived. Dudkiewicz said firefighters were hampered by a low water supply, which is common in that section of Hadley, but they were able to contain the fire on the roof by using an aerial ladder. Once they did that, firefighters were able to enter the house from the ground.

Dudkiewicz said there’s likely nothing to be saved.

“I’d say it’s a total loss,” he said. “The walls are still standing, but inside it’s a total mess.”

An official from the state fire marshal’s office, who was on the scene Sunday, determined that the fire was electrical in nature and involved the circuit breaker in the basement, Dudkiewicz said.

He added that crews left the home at about 7 a.m.

Dudkiewicz said the Red Cross was not called in and he was unsure where Brown and his wife were staying. In the 1990s, Brown was active in Hadley politics. He once served on the Finance Committee and the Public Safety Committee and unsuccessfully ran for town clerk and treasurer.

The property is assessed at $261,200, according to the town assessor’s office.

Four other fire departments — Northampton, Amherst, South Deerfield and South Hadley Fire District 2 — helped extinguish the fire. The Hatfield Fire Department handled Hadley’s calls for about six hours.

Dudkiewicz said the couple did the right thing in fleeing the house quickly. He reminded other homeowners to do the same if they are in a similar situation.

“I cannot stress it enough: If you hear alarms or smell smoke, get out as fast as you can,” Dudkiewicz said.

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