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S. Hadley marina fire ruled accidental

South Hadley firefighters work to keep a blaze at the Dockside Restaurant at Brunelle's Marina in South Hadley Friday morning from spreading to the adjacent marina showroom, at left.
KEVIN GUTTING

South Hadley firefighters work to keep a blaze at the Dockside Restaurant at Brunelle's Marina in South Hadley Friday morning from spreading to the adjacent marina showroom, at left. KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

That’s the word from the office of State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and South Hadley’s District 1 Fire Chief Bob Authier.

The fire began in the kitchen when electrical wires near the refrigeration unit overheated, Authier said in a telephone interview Monday. From there, the fire traveled to the space between the ceiling and roof and spread to the rest of the building, he said.

Reported at 6:25 a.m. Friday by the alarm company that serves the marina, the fire at the 1 Alvord St. property was extinguished by firefighters from South Hadley, Amherst, Holyoke, Granby, Chicopee, Hadley, Easthampton and Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee.

South Hadley Fire District 1 Capt. Jim Pula said it took around 90 minutes to put out what he termed a “stubborn fire.” It was especially difficult to reach flames that had gotten into the space between the ceiling and roof.

The fire destroyed the building except for possibly the boat showroom, which he said is still structurally sound.

Luke Brunelle Jr., an owner and the president of the marina, said he had no monetary estimate of the damage, but considered the structure a total loss. The property is valued at approximately $1.2 million, according to the town assessor’s report.

No one was injured in the fire and nobody was believed to have been in the building when it started.

Brunelle, whose father and grandfather started the business in 1959, reopened the Dockside Restaurant for lunch Saturday, serving burgers and hot dogs under a tent by the river. Boat owners launched their boats, and the Lady Bea, the marina’s tour boat, ran as scheduled.

While Brunelle said he has no set plans or contractor chosen to rebuild, he is optimistic.

“It will be a challenging fall and winter, but we will hopefully be well into construction with a good plan by then,” he said.

The fire was investigated by South Hadley fire and police departments, State Police assigned to the office of the State Fire Marshal and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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