NORTHAMPTON - According to Wikipedia, mutual aid is defined as ‘a formal agreement among emergency responders to lend assistance across jurisdictional boundaries when required; either by an emergency that exceeds local resources or a disaster’.
On Wednesday, April 22nd, the Goshen Fire Department was toned out to provide mutual aid station coverage at Northampton's Florence station while Northampton personnel battled a working structure fire on Wright Avenue. In recent years, this type of response has become fairly standard for our region. However, this time was different.
Many local volunteer fire departments are personnel challenged during daytime hours as many department members are out of town attending to work commitments or other responsibilities. On this particular day, response was delayed as department members attempted to get back to the Goshen station from various locations. After failing to pull together a crew in a timely fashion, protocol requires the dispatchers at Northampton Control to call in the next available unit in the zone of coverage. In this case, the Westampton Fire Department was called and ultimately responded to the Florence station.
Goshen firefighter Bob Labrie was in Northampton when the fire broke out. Due to recent surgery, he was not able to respond to the Goshen station but did make his way down to Wright Avenue to record the images below.
Smoke from the fire permeated the downtown area. Traffic was re-routed away from Conz Street where most of the fire apparatus was located and onto Pleasant street.
In this photo, Northampton's Ladder Truck sprays water onto the smoldering shell of the house at 3-5 Wright Avenue. Prevailing winds pushed smoke and flames in a northerly direction (towards downtown) which prompted officials to shut off power to the area. The bucket from Amherst's ladder truck can be seen in the left side of the frame.
The fire, which started in the rear of the home, quickly spread into the attic. As a result, firefighters resorted to an exterior attack which brought the fire under control within a half hour.
The burn pattern on the back porch provides a glimpse at the extent of the damage. Before responding firefighters could arrive at the scene and begin protecting exposures, radiant heat from the flames began melting the vinyl siding of the adjacent home. This picture was taken from the back of the Pioneer Valley Family Medical Building on Fulton Avenue.
Northampton Fire Chief Brian Duggan consults with his Safety Officer while standing in a maze of hose lines.
A view of the front of the house shows how firefighters were able to contain the fire to the rear and attic area. In spite of their best efforts, the building was deemed a total loss and razed later in the week.
Easthampton's Engine 1 supplies water through large diameter hose to Amherst's ladder truck.
An investigation from the State Fire Marshal concluded that the fire resulted from the careless disposal of smoking materials.
(Wednesday, April 22nd, 2008)