Florence man dies in house fire

  • Firefighters on the scene of a house fire on Carolyn Street in Florence, Jan. 3, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/JACQUELYN VOGHEL

  • Firefighters on the scene of a house fire on Carolyn Street in Florence, Jan. 3, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/JACQUELYN VOGHEL

  • Firefighters on the scene of a house fire on Carolyn Street in Florence, Jan. 3, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/JACQUELYN VOGHEL

  • GAZETTE STAFF

  • Barry Brown talks about the fire at 45 Carolyn Street in Florence. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Barry Brown talks about the fire at 45 Carolyn Street in Florence. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • 45 Carolyn Street in Florence where a fire occurred Thursday morning. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • 45 Carolyn Street in Florence where a fire occurred Thursday morning. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Firefighters work at the scene of a house fire at 45 Carolyn St. in Florence, Thursday morning. One man was killed in the blaze, which was reported at 4:30 a.m. STAFF PHOTOS/CAROL LOLLIS

  • 45 Carolyn Street in Florence where a fire occurred Thursday morning. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/3/2019 8:57:41 AM

NORTHAMPTON — A 69-year-old man died following an early morning fire at 45 Carolyn St. on Thursday, according to his death notice.

Craig A. Nehring of Florence, who neighbors said was the only person living in the house, was confirmed as the victim by his death notice, sent to the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

The fire was called in at 4:30 a.m., said Northampton Deputy Fire Chief Timothy McQueston, and was listed as under control at 7 a.m. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. About 75 percent of the house was damaged, he said.

Neighbor Barry Brown said that he knew Nehring for about two years and struck up a friendship during this time.

“We traveled to New Hampshire just for day trips,” Brown said, where Nehring would show him antique shops and the two would buy cigarettes. “He told me about Northampton, the old days.”

“He was a nice guy,” Brown added. “Very different from me, but we managed to get along.”

While the cause of the fire has not been officially determined, Brown said that the heating in Nehring’s house had not been working, and that Nehring was using his oven and other electric devices to keep the house warm as he waited to have it fixed.

Neighbor Terry Carr said that she woke up at around 6 a.m. when she saw smoke and emergency vehicles at Nehring’s house.

“The smoke was billowing out of the house,” Carr said. “The police, the fire department, the news were all here. You couldn’t get down the street.”

Carr described Nehring as someone who watched out for his neighbors, and recalled that he had made a wooden mailbox for a friend in the neighborhood.

“He was a caring neighbor,” Carr said. “He would go and say hi to everyone, he’d pet every dog that he came in contact with.”

Brown and Carr said that Nehring had lived in the house as a child, then returned to the neighborhood following a divorce. He was a retiree who had previously worked for the Northampton Water Division as a working foreman.

Nehring had two children, they added, a son in Chicopee and a daughter in New York.

Rich Parasiliti, superintendent of the forestry, parks and cemetery division of the city of Northampton and tree warden, was one of the people who knew Nehring when he was a worker.

“Craig was a really nice man,” Parasiliti said. “He had worked for the city for a long period of time before I started working there.”

Indeed, he said that Nehring was one of the last people who worked in the water department who used to draw the plans for the city’s water system.

“He was very steeped in history about the city’s water supply,” said Parasiliti.

He also described Nehring as a “gentle soul” with “a lot of wit” who “made people laugh.”

Abbie Crescitelli, another neighbor, said that she did not know Nehring, whom she described as “quiet.” She said she saw the fire from her bedroom window at around 4:30 a.m.

“I watched them take (Nehring) out of the house,” Crescitelli said, recalling that the fire seemed to “build up” again afterwards.

Crescitelli said that she   saw  flames coming out of a vent near a room, adding, “When firefighters broke the walls open, fire was coming out of the walls.”

“This is the first time anything like this has happened in the neighborhood,” said Crescitelli, who has lived there for about 22 years.

“We were sad to hear he didn’t make it,” she said. “He’s been there my whole life.”

The fire was called in by a next-door neighbor and remains under investigation by state police assigned to the state fire marshal’s office, the Northampton fire and police departments and state police assigned to the Northwestern district attorney’s office.

Gazette reporter Bera Dunau contributed to this story.




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