WILLIAMSBURG - His house is uninhabitable, but Chester S. Kenderski plans to repair damage from the Dec. 29 garage fire that left his 7 Hyde Hill Road home with blackened walls.
A malfunction in an automobile stored in the garage was the cause of the afternoon blaze, according to the state fire marshal and Williamsburg's fire investigator.
Kenderski had started his automobile and was running it with the garage door open when the fire began. The garage was quickly engulfed in flames, said Fire Chief Don Lawton, but the fire did not spread to the attached house thanks to fire-rated Sheetrock.
The interior of the house was, however, heavily damaged by smoke and intense heat, according to Lawton, and is uninhabitable.
Propane tanks stored in the garage vented into the fire, increasing the temperature of the blaze.
Kenderski, 88, spent five days in the hospital following the fire before being transferred to the Northampton Nursing Home, said his stepbrother, Peter Salvatore of Hadley. Kenderski inhaled some smoke and his health is being monitored.
"I guess he's doing OK," said Salvatore. "We're taking things one day at a time." Kenderski could not be reached for an interview, but Salvatore said he hopes Kenderski's "stay in the nursing home will be temporary."
According to Salvatore, Kenderski's insurance agency has been cooperative, but given the cold weather, it's likely that the rebuilding effort will begin in the spring. "Everything is on hold for some period," said Salvatore.
"People in Williamsburg are wonderful and have been very supportive," said Salvatore.
He said many residents have phoned or stopped by to offer wishes for a speedy recovery.
Williamsburg crews fought the Dec. 29 fire with help from Goshen, Chesterfield, Northampton and Westhampton fire departments. Easthampton's fire department provided coverage at the station in case a fire broke out in another part of town.
In recent weeks, the Williamsburg Fire Department has had to respond to a flurry of calls, particularly over the Christmas holiday. Lawton praised the excellent response of his weary team of firefighters and gave thanks, too, for state building codes, which he believes controlled the extent of the damage to Kenderski's home.
Fire-rated Sheetrock in the garage stopped the spread of fire into the house, and working smoke and heat detectors provided early warning. "The building codes of Massachusetts are what saved the house," said Lawton.