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Officials: Townsend blaze sparked by makeshift fire pit

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO By Brittney Christiansen

By Chris Lisinski

TOWNSEND – A Friday afternoon fire that destroyed a barn and a shed on Old Turnpike Road started when embers spread from a homemade outdoor fire pit, according to an investigation by the state fire marshal.

Jennifer Mieth, a spokesperson for the state fire marshal, said someone on the road was using a 50-gallon drum as a “makeshift” outdoor fire pit and then left to go inside. At that point, embers likely ignited a brush fire, which then engulfed a barn and shed at 128 Old Turnpike Road.

The barn and shed were completely destroyed, while a nearby camper was damaged and the siding on a residence next door was slightly melted, Mieth said.

“If you’re burning outdoors and enjoying a fire pit or a campfire, you want to make sure it’s completely put out before leaving it,” she said.

Local firefighters battled the blaze for about an hour Friday afternoon and brought it under control around 4 p.m., said Townsend Fire Department Deputy Chief Gary Shepherd. “One or two” firefighters were treated on-scene for heat exhaustion, but no civilians were injured, he said.

Vehicles from the Townsend Police Department, Pepperell Fire Department and state Department of Conservation and Recreation were also present at the scene, where firefighters walked around carrying a number of tools including chainsaws and axes.

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