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Fireplace ashes cause blaze in Main Street home garage


ASHBY — A three-alarm fire erupted in the center of Ashby on Sunday afternoon.

Fire Chief Bill Seymour said the fire at the home on 796 Main Street began in the attached garage.

The fire was shooting out a window and smoke was visible over a quarter of mile away at the fire station. “I didn’t think we’d be able to stop it,” Seymour said.

“Our crews did an excellent job, very aggressive,” he said. “They contained it to the garage.”

Seymour said the family did not stay in the house after the fire, though there were no injuries to family members. “They’re fine,” Seymour said.

When the call was made to 911, the Ashby 911 system was not working. The call was answered in Ashburnham then Ashby was notified.

Because the fire was on a weekend, Seymour said most of the volunteer firefighters were in town. Many were out working to clear brush and trees following the Thursday ice storm, but the response was prompt.

Crews from Ashburnham, Townsend and Fitchburg assisted at the scene. Winchendon and Mason, N.H., also responded.

Seymour said lines were laid in from a pond on Cemetery Road. Firefighters were able to snake the lines under the ice far enough out to draw water. There are no hydrants in Ashby.

Seymour said the fire was accidental.

“They’d cleaned the ashes from the fireplace into a proper container and put it in the driveway,” he said. They found water in the cellar the next day and emptied the ashes into a container in the garage so they could use the bucket to bail out the cellar.

But the ashes were not entirely extinguished and the fire spread. Seymour said Trooper Shawn Sullivan, from the state office investigated the fire.

Ashby firefighters have been busy with several smaller fires occurring in the aftermath of the storm.

After 911 service in Ashby was restored, there was a fire at the police station. Seymour said an electrical short caused a surge protector to blow out. The station lost two radios but all service is up and running.

Several chimney fires were contained with no injuries. One fire was spotted by a firefighter who was driving by. He notified the people in the home, who were unaware of the fire. There were no injuries.