Ashfield Lane home catches fire, officials speculate cause

by Town Reminder

Turley Publications Photo Courtesy of William Selkirk
Ashfield Lane Fire

Single story home catches fire
Officials speculate cause
By Kristin Will
Staff Writer,

SOUTH HADLEY – A fire with a mysterious origin caused approximately $50,000 worth of damage to a single-story home located at 14 Ashfield Lane Saturday night.
South Hadley Fire District 2 firefighters were called to the scene at 8:46 p.m. where they found about 70 percent of the wooden clapboards in the back of home on fire. The flames had burned up to the home’s soffit, where the roof meets the side of the structure, and entered the attic by working its way through cracks. Upon District 2’s arrival, Fire Chief David Keefe said the homeowner had extinguished the majority of the fire in the back of the house. South Hadley Fire District 1 and Granby’s Fire Department were called for assistance. Firefighters had the fire extinguished in approximately 20 minutes.
“If it had gone any longer, the attic space would have been heavily involved in the fire,” said Keefe.
At about 7:30 p.m. that evening, two male residents of the home set out to cook food on a gas grill on a deck behind the home, according to Keefe. They were finished at approximately 8 p.m., at which point they shut off and secured the grill. Keefe said they shut off the gas and the burners and entered the home at that time.
As the residents explained to Keefe, at approximately 8:30 p.m. they heard a “whoosh” sound. The two went to the back of the home to inspect the area and found the grill to be completely on fire. One of the men dialed 9-1-1 on a cordless phone to report the fire but Keefe said there was apparently some sort of malfunction with the phone. Another phone was fetched to call 9-1-1 again while the second male grabbed a garden hose to extinguish the flames on the back of the home. For some reason, again, the second phone had issues connecting with dispatch. Keefe said it was explained to him the emergency dispatcher had only heard open phone lines. As it protocol in instances such as that, South Hadley Police were dispatched to the location to investigate. The enhanced 9-1-1 system was able to provide police with the location from which the calls originated. On scene, police reported back to the dispatcher there was a fire, at which point Fire District 2 responded.
Keefe said the fire was evidently fed by the propane and speculated there was “some sort of malfunction with the grill.” While they could not officially determine the cause of the fire, Keefe said it was not suspicious. The State Fire Marshall’s office was contacted but representatives did not visit the scene, as it was explained the department did not suspect arson.