Winds Whip House Fire

Williamsburg blaze routs 4 families; none injured

Source: Sunday Republican (Springfield, MA)

Author: FRED CONTRADA

WILLIAMSBURG, MA – Firefighters from here and Goshen battled high winds to contain a fire that whipped through a four-family home on Williams Street yesterday.
Fire Chief Roger Bisbee said no one was injured in the blaze that caused an estimated $75,000 damage to the three-story home at 2 Williams St. Two cats that lived in the building were unaccounted for.

Firefighters had to evacuate a second-floor resident from the home owned by Herbert and Karen Mayer, who live on the first floor.

The cause of the blaze was not immediately known.

The second-floor resident, Jane Slattery, was removed from her porch by ladder.

“That was a trip,” Slattery said. “I hate ladders.”

Responding to an alarm at 11 a.m., local firefighters were met with fierce winds that continually reignited smouldering timbers and fanned the flames across the roof of the building.

As firefighters clung to ladders in an attempt to hose down the fire, winds ripped roof shingles off the building and sent burning timbers sizzling into the snow below. According to the National Weather Service, winds in the area gusted as high as 49 mph yesterday.

Fire trucks from Goshen and volunteers from other surrounding towns joined 16 town firefighters in responding to the call. Firefighters had the blaze under control by 2:30 p.m.

The Mayers reportedly were in Connecticut at the time of the fire, but were heading back home, Bisbee said.

Slattery said she woke up coughing and found her apartment full of smoke. By the time she got to the window, firefighters were already on the scene, she said.

Although she escaped with only the clothes she was wearing, Slattery did manage to save two of her three cats. She did not know the whereabouts of the third.

“I guess I’ll drop back 10 yards and punt,” said Slattery, adding that she plans to stay with her family in Northampton.

“I was just saying yesterday that I need to move on and throw away all the stuff I’ve accumulated in the last five years,” she said. “I guess that problem was solved for me, wasn’t it?”

Mariah Brown, who lives in another second-floor apartment with her daughter, returned from doing errands to find her home engulfed in flames and surrounded by firefighters. Brown said her daughter was at work yesterday. Firefighters recovered one of Brown’s two cats but the other had not yet been located.

The third-floor apartment reportedly was occupied by Kenneth Moon and his two children. Moon could not be located for comment yesterday.

Brown, who has lived in the house for five years, said she had been kept awake Friday night by strange sounds in the building. According to Brown, patrons of a local drinking establishment sometimes let themselves in the building after closing time and slept on the back porch but had stopped doing so when the landlord put a lock on the porch door.

Bisbee said the fire apparently started on the third floor, but firefighters had not yet pinpointed the origin of the blaze. The first- and second-floor apartments did not seem to be structurally damaged, Bisbee said.

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