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Depot Road Fire - GFD - 04/02/2011


 Fire Causes $500,000 in Damages to Local Contractor

WILLIAMSBURG, MA – The mutual aid call for Goshen and Chesterfield firefighters came in at 00:06.  The request was simple; respond to 6 Depot Road in Williamsburg with one engine each and manpower to assist Williamsburg Fire at a reported structure fire.  Northampton and Westhampton fire departments were also dispatched to the scene along with a crew from Highland Ambulance.


Williamsburg's Engine 1 arrived on scene and began drafting operations which supplied Engine 2.  Northampton Fire pumped from the hydrant at the corner of Route 9 and Depot Road and supplied water to Westhampton's engine that was stationed at the C-D corner of the building.  Westhampton firefighters concentrated on keeping a fuel tank located at that corner cool.


On route to the incident, firefighters monitored communications between Williamsburg Deputy Chief Don Turner (Operations Leader) and the Depot Road Command headed up by Williamsburg Fire Chief Don Lawton.  Initial reports indicated that the structure was fully involved.  Firefighters on scene were directed to protect a large propane cylinder on the 'B' side of the building that was between the burning structure and a nearby residence.  At one point, Deputy Chief Turner notified Command that flames were impinging on electrical wires that ran along side the 'D' side of the building.  Shortly thereafter, Deputy Chief Turner reported that there was a building collapse on the 'C-D' side of the structure which brought down the power lines.


The following images of the building collapse were used by permission from Fireground360.com





The utility pole clearly visible in these photos is located on the A-D side of the building on Depot Road  If you look past that pole towards the rear of the building, you can see that the utility pole on the C-D side of the building is on fire.  The power lines strung between these two poles were taken down by the collapse of the building.


Chesterfield Fire was directed to come in from the Nash Hill Road / Oneill Road side of Depot Road and lay a supply line from the brook to the fire scene.  Goshen Fire would then draft from the brook and supply water to Chesterfield's Engine 2 through 1,200 feet of 4" hose.  Northampton Fire began drafting operations from the same brook on the Route 9 end of Depot Road to supplement water that Williamsburg's engine was getting from a nearby hydrant.


Williamsburg Fire Chief Don Lawton was quoted as saying "We needed 10,000 gallons a minute, and we weren't getting anywhere near that", referring to a problem with the volume of water that was available from that hydrant.


As operations were wrapping up, Westhampton Fire was called from the scene when they were required to respond to a motor vehicle accident in their town that resulted from a car going off road.  All other mutual aid units were released later in the morning after the fire was brought under control.


The building, owned by Williamsburg resident Cliff Clarke, housed equipement for his excavating company which included a dump truck and tools.  In addition, several antique cars owned by the family were stored here and were also destroyed.


The following video from FIREGROUND360° provides a good sense of the amount of coordination and effort that goes into an incident of this size. 



(Used by permission)

A building collapse on the C-D side of the building took down power lines that ran adjacent to the Clark's Excavating building.  In this view, the roof and second floor of the structure had already collapsed.

An excavator was brought in to expose sections of the building that couldn't easily be reached by firefighters in their defensive attack positions.

Williamsburg Fire Chief Don Lawton watches over salvage operations as water from the deck gun on Chesterfield's E2 rains down on the debris pile.  Firefighters on the hose line (right to left) are Williamsburg firefighter Bob Lapointe (on the nozzle), Chesterfield firefighter Roger Bancroft and Williamsburg firefighter Paul Sanderson. 

Williamsburg firefighters douse stubborn hot spots exposed by the excavator.

Water from the deck gun on Chesterfield's Engine 2 is poured on smouldering debris pile during overhaul operations.

Williamsburg firefighter Bob Lapointe (in black) and Chesterfield firefighter Roger Bancroft working in debris pile.

(April 2, 2011)