Fire destroys Goshen home, family of six escapes

  • Fire destroyed the home of Phillip and Jessica Judd at 164 Berkshire Trail West (Route 9) in Goshen late Friday night into Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Published: 1/26/2019 5:35:44 PM

GOSHEN — Fire destroyed a house on Route 9 late Friday night into Saturday, and a dog perished in the blaze, but a family of six was able to evacuate safely after being woken up by smoke detectors.

The Goshen Firefighters Association received a call at 10:37 p.m. of a fire at 164 Berkshire Trail West where responding firefighters found nearly half the home engulfed in flames. The family — Phillip and Jessica Judd and their four young boys — were sleeping when the home’s smoke detectors alerted them to the fire.

“It was a very fast-moving fire that had gone through the roof by the time we got there,” Fire Chief Susan Labrie said. “They made it out just in time and with absolutely nothing, wearing just pajamas and no shoes.”

The home, an old wooden farmhouse, had been in the Judd family since it was built in the 1880s.

The origin of the fire is believed to be from a wood stove and a chimney, according to Labrie. Firefighters from across the Hilltowns were on scene working until 4:30 a.m.

When the family awoke to the smoke detectors, “the flames were already visible,” Labrie said. There were no injuries reported, although the family’s dog died from the fire.

The house is a “total loss,” Labrie said.

Since Goshen has no public water supply, firefighters had to rely on tanker shuttles to bring a water supply from a nearby river, Labrie said. A total of six tankers and five engines from 10 towns were needed to douse the flames.

More than 50 firefighters from 10 departments responded to the blaze.

“This was a huge mutual aid event and one of the largest fires that I have ever seen in the Hilltowns,” Plainfield Assistant Fire Chief Dave Alvord said.

With a temperature of 14 degrees, Alvord said drafting water from the river proved difficult as pumps and equipment tended to freeze up.

Icing also made it treacherous for firefighters, many of whom lost their footing while battling the blaze.

“With water splashing and overflowing, Route 9 became very icy,” Labrie said. “About a dozen of us fell, but nobody was injured.”

Firefighters from Williamsburg were able to retrieve a wedding ring that had been left on the kitchen counter.

“An insurance adjuster was out there on Saturday and gave the OK for the Judds to use an excavator to pull the structure apart,” Labrie said. “We will probably go back and deal with any hot spots that may still be there.”

Ashfield, Buckland, Chesterfield, Cummington, Northampton, Plainfield, Williamsburg, Worthington, Windsor and Westhampton fire departments all provided mutual aid to Goshen firefighters, Labrie said.

With the Judds losing all their possessions in the fire, a GoFundMe campaign was launched online Saturday by Jessica Judd’s mother, Peggy Reinke, to help the family, according to Goshen Fire Capt. Bob Labrie. Within 24 hours, $25,000 had been raised. That number continued to rise and as of early Sunday evening it was over $32,000.

Donations of clothes, furniture, toys, food and gift cards were dropped off at the Goshen Congregational Church, also.

“It’s nice, people in a small town helping a family in need,” Chief Labrie said.

She said the Judd family has been able to take up residence in a vacant, single-family home on the town-owned Tilton Farm, where they can stay until their home is rebuilt.

“In less than three hours, and much to the appreciation of Phil and Jess, family and friends were able to supply the once empty home with a new mattress, furniture and a completely stocked refrigerator,” Captain Labrie said.

Luis Fieldman can be reached at lfieldman@gazettenet.com


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