WESTFIELD – Fire Department investigators determined that the cause of a two-alarm fire which ignited a 12-by-12 shed at 63 Montgomery Street, then jumped to a nearby structure used for furniture storage at 65 Montgomery Street, gutting both structure, was an unattended chiminia burning near the shed.
The fire was reported as a brush fire near a shed at 4:38 p.m., but Deputy Chief Mark Devine reported that when firefighters arrived the shed was burning and the flames spreading to the nearby building which formerly housed the office, retail area and storage building of the former Bilodeau Flower business.
“The call came in as a shed fire, a rather large shed at 63 Montgomery St., which was fully engulfed when the first firefighters arrived, and was spreading next door to the building at 65 Montgomery St.,” Devine said. Devine listed the cause of the fire as a “hot ember or ash” from the chiminia.
Devine said that all of the department’s apparatus, including the aerial tower, pumpers 2,3,4 and 5, and an ambulance, as well as 16 fire personnel were dispatched to bring the blaze under control and to protect nearby residential structures.
Devine said the heat of the fire did cause damage to the house at 63 Montgomery St., melting the exterior siding of a sun room at the rear of the structure near the location of the chiminia.
Devine called a second alarm, requesting mutual aid from Holyoke and West Springfield. The Holyoke Fire Department dispatched a ladder truck while the West Springfield Fire Department dispatched a pumper. Both of those apparatus were stationed at Broad Street to respond to emergencies elsewhere in the city.
Devine said one firefighters suffered an injury and was transported to Noble Hospital where he was treated and later returned to duty.
Two firefighters and an engine were stationed at the fire scene overnight to ensure that the fire did not rekindle and to control hot spots in the storage structure which had several sections of the roof collapsing inside the building during the fire.
Devine said firefighters heard several explosions while fighting the blaze, but were unable to determine the cause and source of those explosions. The heat of the fire also blew out the windows of the former business building.
“We found a propane tank inside, but that had not exploded,” Devine said. “All sort of things explode in the heat of a fire. It’s common for tires, aerosol cans and other items to explode.”