Roof fire doused at abandoned Housatonic power mill

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By Saturday, Apr 15 News  3 Comments
Courtesy photo
The roof of the abandoned Power House Mill in Housatonic caught on fire Saturday afternoon (April 15). The blaze was quickly extinguished by firefighters of the Great Barrington Fire Department using the 100-foot tower ladder.

Housatonic — The Great Barrington Fire Department extinguished a fire at an abandoned mill building Saturday afternoon (April 15), the second fire this week caused by embers igniting during dry weather, Chief Charles Burger said.

Just after noon, the Great Barrington Fire Department was dispatched for a roof fire behind the Housatonic Fire Station, also known as Great Barrington Station 2.

Crews quickly confirmed that the roof of the abandoned Power House Mill — a 200-foot by 100-foot masonry building with 50-foot ceilings that’s part of the Monument Mills complex — was on fire. The building is located at 174 Front St.

The fire department's 100-foot tower ladder was needed to access the fire due to the height of the building. (Courtesy Photo)

The fire department’s 100-foot tower ladder was needed to access the fire due to the height of the building. (Courtesy Photo)

Burger said firefighters arrived on scene within minutes and began attacking the fire. The department’s 100-foot tower ladder was needed to access the fire due to the height of the building. There were no injuries.

The fire was quickly brought under control and contained to the roof of half the structure, and crews cleared the scene by 2:30 p.m. The Stockbridge Fire Department assisted on scene, the Lenox Fire Department sent a rapid intervention team and the Sheffield Fire Department provided station coverage.

Arcs of water from the fire departments hoses and from the 100-foot ladder truck pour onto the roof of the Power House Mill, as viewed from Front Street. Photo: Carmen Brown

Streams of water from the fire departments 100-foot ladder truck and from hoses pour onto the roof of the Power House Mill, as viewed from Front Street. Photo: Carmen Brown

Burger said an investigation by his department indicated that the owner of the mill was burning brush about 75 feet from the building and the embers caught the building’s roof on fire.

Saturday’s fire is the second that occurred in town this week. At noon on Monday, April 10, Great Barrington Fire responded to a porch fire at 18 Sumner St. It was contained to the porch and the house remained inhabitable. An investigation determined that the fire began from a cigarette disposed of in the mulch next to the porch.

“It is extremely important that community members remember to properly dispose of smoking material and monitor brush fires, especially as we head into warmer, dryer weather,” Burger said. “As we’ve seen this week, anything with embers can easily start a fire.”

On Saturday, the National Weather Service issued a warning about elevated risk for wild fires due to wind and dry conditions:

“Elevated Risk for Fire Spread Potential Saturday through Sunday across Berkshire and Litchfield Counties…

“Massachusetts and Connecticut fire weather officials have advised of an elevated risk for fire spread this weekend due to dry surface fuels, along with low relative humidities and gusty winds.

“For Sunday afternoon, winds will be from the southwest at 15 to 20 mph with gusts to near 35 mph, with low relative humidity values of 35 to 45 percent expected. In addition, temperatures are expected to be well above normal, reaching into the upper 70s.”

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3 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Abby Pratt says:

    Inhabitable means not habitable.

    1. Elmer says:

      Wrong! “Inhabitable” means “habitable” — or “habitable in.” “Noninhabitable” or “uninhabitable” means “not habitable.”

  2. lolacola says:

    why is the Fire Dept issuing burning permits on dry windy days? People don’t know how to properly burn their brush. I’ve seen
    fires going ten feet away from dwellings and no one outside monitoring. The house across the street from me had a fire
    going the other day a foot away from the neighbors old dried up wooden fence and I didn’t see anyone outside.

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