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Fire claims Ashfield home, barn - Recorder - 06/02/2006


Fire claims Ashfield home, barn

Used by permission.  Copyright Greenfield Recorder


ASHFIELD - A lightning bolt sparked a fire Thursday night that destroyed a home that was in a local family for three generations. The house had no insurance.

So after three generations, it's a lost cause, Tracy Putnam-Culver, the wife of the owner, said as firefighters fought the blaze at 1042 Williamsburg Road at about 10:30 p.m.

Putnam-Culver and her husband, David Culver, stood across the street from the fire, which tore through an attached barn, burning it to the ground. Culver's son, Philip, was living in the house.

Philip Culver, 22, said he walked out to his truck to get his wallet when he saw an orange glow reflected on the truck's hood. He then saw flames coming from the barn's roof. Culver drove his truck to a neighbor's home and called the Fire Department.

When the Ashfield Fire Department arrived, the barn was engulfed in flames, Fire Chief Douglas Field said while directing firefighters at the scene.

''We had flames about 50 feet in the air,'' he said.

The fire burned the rear section of the home. At about 11 p.m., firefighters were still spraying the blaze to keep it from spreading to the front, which was still intact. Smoke was billowing out from the roof.

A shed on the property became a fireball. Firefighters were keeping people away from the shed because it contained a propane tank.

Field said he believes lightning caused the fire.

David Culver, who lives in Florence, said the house was built in the mid to late 1800s.

They recently tried to insure it, but were unable, his wife said. She said insurance companies would not agree to insure the house because of the attached barn and because it had not been insured in the past.

There were no animals in the barn and no one was injured in the fire. But everything in the two-story home was destroyed, Culver suspected.

''But you're all right,'' he said to his son, who was standing beside him across the street from the fire. ''That's all that matters.''

About two miles east of the fire, and two hours earlier, a lightning bolt almost burned down a barn at Ralph Osgood's house at 46 East Guinea Road, Conway.

A lightning bolt struck a nearby power line and sent a surge of electricity through the wires and into Osgood's barn, said Conway Fire Chief Robert Baker.

In the barn, the surge exploded a steel electrical pipe, melting it down and sending an arc of flame into the air.

''It sounded louder than an arc welder,'' Osgood said about the flame coming from the pipe.

Osgood sprayed the flame with an fire extinguisher and then poured a sack of flour on it. When Conway Fire Department arrived, smoke was coming from the barn, but the fire had died down, firefighters said.

The barn was saved and suffered minimal damage. Luckily, the pipe was attached to a cinderblock wall and nothing flammable was in the immediate area.

Firefighters from Conway, Ashfield and Williamsburg responded to the Conway fire. South Deerfield Fire Department covered the Conway fire station.

Firefighters from Ashfield, Conway, Williamsburg, Goshen, Hawley, Buckland and South Deerfield responded to the Ashfield fire.

(Friday, June 2, 2006)