Fire destroys old tobacco barn in North Hadley


  • Firefighters battling a barn fire on Shattuck Road in Hadley Monday. COURTESY OF NATE ARNOLD

  • Firefighters battling a barn fire on Shattuck Road in Hadley Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. COURTESY OF NATE ARNOLD

  • Hadley Deputy Fire Chief Evan Briant overseeing efforts to battle a barn fire on Shattuck Road in Hadley Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. COURTESY OF NATE ARNOLD

Staff Writer
Published: 1/19/2021 11:14:59 AM

HADLEY — A barn at 92 Shattuck Road, being used to store vehicles and other equipment, was destroyed by fire Monday night.

Fire Chief Michael Spanknebel said the blaze leveled the large barn once used to store tobacco, leaving only a large pile of scrap metal that includes both the contents of the barn and its metal roof.

The barn is owned by Joe Czajkowski, of Joe Czajkowski Farm and Lakeside Organics of Hadley. Czajkowski said it was a beautiful shed built by his father, grandfather and uncle.

“Perhaps the nicest shed we ever hung tobacco in,” Czajkowski said.

Spanknebel said investigators from the state Fire Marshal’s Office have determined that the fire’s origin is not suspicious.

“It was caused by an unspecified event in a motor vehicle parked in there,” Spanknebel said.

But Czajkowski said he remains concerned that the fire could be the result of misconduct.

“With two large subdivisions located across the road, people use that property like a dog park walking around it all the time,” Czajkowski said, adding that people should not be going in and out of barns in the neighborhood.

Firefighters from the North Hadley fire station were dispatched to the scene at 9:18 p.m., across from the entrance to Kennedy Drive, where state police on patrol reported the structure was already engulfed in flames, Spanknebel said.

“It had been burning for a while,” Spanknebel said.

Because of the head start, firefighters, even with the proximity of engines coming from the satellite station, were not able to bring it under control.

“It was a very fast response from the call force,” Spanknebel said.

Amherst and Sunderland firefighters also helped battle the blaze at the scene, while Northampton firefighters provided station coverage and Hadley police officers closed the road to traffic.

The heat from the large fire was apparently felt by neighbors and Spanknebel said the north side of the home, closest to the barn, had to be doused with water.

“The house was an exposure,” Spanknebel said.

The fire was large enough to be seen from neighborhoods off East Pleasant Street in Amherst.

Firefighters remained on scene to extinguish hot spots until about 2 a.m., with the final first responders leaving after salt was put onto the ice-covered road.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at

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