vintage cars lost in charlton fire
Posted in the Fitchburg Forum
#1 Jul 27, 2012
Tenant warned about car-cutting business where fire started
VINTAGE CARS LOST IN CHARLTON FIRE
Firefighters continue to pour water on the Upper Mill at 6 City Depot Road after it was destroyed by fire last night.(T&G Staff/DAN GOULD)
By Linda Bock and Steven H. Foskett Jr.
TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
8 comments | Add a comment
Fire rips through a warehouse in Charlton late last night.(T&G Staff/GERARD F. RUSSELL)
• Charlton mill fire
• Investigators dig through Charlton mill blaze rubble
CHARLTON — Environmental officials are working to identify and address any potential hazards to the public from a former mill building leveled by a fire last night.
The massive five-alarm inferno destroyed a single-story warehouse in the Upper Mill at 6 City Depot Road, and heavily damaged a nearby building at the mill complex. The warehouse was 87 feet wide by 211 feet long and home to at least a couple of businesses, including one that other business tenants in the complex said dismantled cars and shipped them overseas.
About 75 firefighters from some 20 communities worked throughout the night, and were relieved by other firefighters this morning. Fire Chief Charles E. Cloutier said six firefighters were taken to area hospitals for treatment of injuries. All were treated and released. Everyone in the warehouse got out safely.
State and federal emergency response environmental officials were called last night, and have been working to assess any potential hazards to the public from unknown chemicals and oil inside the building. Federal officials monitored air quality and state officials contracted a local company to place booms in the nearby mill pond to collect any hazardous materials that may have leaked into the water.
“We're working with the mill owner and tenants to drain the oil out of tanks and to remove any chemicals,” said Nicholas Child, chief of emergency response for Central Mass Department of Environmental Protection. He said crews would be picking through the rubble to make sure any potential health hazards would be properly and promptly addressed.“We'll probably be here all weekend.”
Firefighters from numerous departments in the area, including Leicester, Southbridge, Dudley, Auburn, Paxton, Sturbridge, East Brookfield and Spencer were among those assisting Charlton firefighters in battling the massive blaze in the former Charlton Woolen Mill. Flames erupted from the building for more than two hours. About a dozen explosions could be heard and occasionally a fireball billowed up from the building.
Jack Denaro, owner of the Twisted Spoke motorcycle repair shop at the mill complex, said he was just finishing up work around 9 last night when the fire started. He called to report it, and then wanted to make sure everyone was out of the warehouse. He saw a worker in the parking lot, and the worker told him that everyone was out and the fire was too far gone.
“It went up quick,” said Mr. Denaro, who lost his Sturbridge home in the tornado last year. He watched the fire all night, and heard several explosions.
“They were like M-80 sort-of-like explosions. There were at least 15 explosions during the night,” Mr. Denaro said. There were five or six garage doors, and the fire just went from one to the next to the next. It burned a good five or six hours out of control.”
There is no municipal water supply in the area; a tanker shuttle had to be run from nearby Glen Echo Lake, Chief Meskus said. Fire officials made the decision to allow the warehouse to burn while shifting water and other resources to keeping the fire from spreading to other parts of the mill complex.
#2 Jul 27, 2012
Water was still being poured on the mounds of charred and twisted wreckage this morning and the chief expected firefighters would be on the scene at least until tonight.
“All the firefighters did a fantastic job of keeping the fire out of the big mill,” Chief Cloutier said.“If it had [spread], then we would have been here for days.”
The warehouse was leveled, and the nearby — about 20 feet away from the warehouse — mill building sustained heavy exterior damage. Several pieces of fire apparatus also sustained damages.
Gary Cove, owner of Werke Classic Coach, which was housed at the mill warehouse for almost 20 years, stood with his wife, Michelle, near cars that his son was able to save — a red 1964 Alpha Romeo. The couple was completely devastated by the loss of the business and irreplaceable vintage cars, but also angry and frustrated over how the car dismantling business was allowed to operate in the warehouse.
“The issue was where they were cutting (cars), it was a container that was all wood,” Mr. Cove said, even the floors. He said he has been so concerned about the business, that he reported it a number of times to local officials and state police.
“I've told the town before; I've told the fire department before,” Mr. Cove said.
Officials were working yesterday to determine the name of the car dismantling business. None of the other business owner was aware of the company's name.
Mr. Cove, the longest tenant in the warehouse, said his most recent attempt to contact the fire department was a month ago. He said the auto business was initially located in the main mill building at one time before it relocated to the warehouse. When it was in the former location, Mr. Cove reported the business to firefighters because it reeked of gasoline, he said..
Curtis J. Meskus, who serves as both assistant fire chief and the town's building commissioner, said the mill complex,“through a series of unpermitted and undocumented changes, ended up in a mess.”
Chief Meskus said he and Chief Cloutier have been working with the mill owner, Kenneth Gaudette, to work out building violations. Mr. Gaudette did not want to be interviewed yesterday morning.
“We were aware of violations in that building and we were trying to straighten out 20 years of mess,” Chief Meskus said.“I have received no written complaints from anyone about anything in that building.”
State fire officials were called Thursday night, and were back yesterday to assist local officials. Jennifer Mieth, spokeswoman for the state fire marshal's office, said,“In terms of the cause, it's under investigation but there is nothing suspicious.”
The investigation team, she said, is still working on the building to establish the cause.
Mr. Cove said he lost 17 cars in the fire.“Those were my life's savings. I lost millions,” he said.
Among those cars, Mr. Cove said he lost five or six iconic Porsche 911s and a 1933 Rolls Royce owned by a Long Island, N.Y. family.
#3 Jul 27, 2012
Mr. Cove said his 24-year-old son, who was working on his car in his dad's warehouse space Thursday night, was able to save the most expensive cars: A $750,000 Shelby Cobra that a friend had just dropped off last week, a $600,000 Mercedes 300 SL, the Alpha Romeo valued at $165,000 and another car.
Car enthusiast Mike Cunnington said he used to deliver for UPS when the building was still a woolen mill.“I imagine there was a lot of lanolin and byproducts in there.” Bill Hultgren, vice-president of the Charlton Historical Society, said the original mill was built in the 1880's, and was rebuilt after the 1955 flood damaged it. It was Charlton Woolen Co. about 15 years ago, and the current complex was known as the Upper Mill of the Charlton Woolen Co. Mr. Hultgren said there was a pond above the mill near the turnpike that was built for fire protection.
Vincent Strzelecki of Spencer-based VFS said his company was at the fire all night to monitor and assess all fire trucks at the scene. He said Charlton's aerial scope sustained a lot of heat and electrical damage, along with Engine 1. There was also an electrical failure in Rescue 1, and that vehicle was pulled out of service. He said the company is at all the big fires.
“This one was very hot and there were a lot of concealed chemicals,” Mr. Strzelecki said.
Debbie LaPlaca contributed to this report.
#4 Jul 27, 2012
and your point...?
#5 Jul 27, 2012
Wow, these cars are that costly? I like vintage cars! Fitchburg had a similar fire also where vintage cars burnt didn't they?
I have to be open and honest. If I had a vintage car I wouldn't put it in a fire box trap. A $750,000 shelby? If I owned such a car I would have a single car garage built just for this car.
I thought comercial buildings had to be inspected? What is the law? I noticed bloggers at the Telegram and Gazette are pointing fingers at officials. At this point there should be an outside agency investigating all matters.
Is the insurance company at the warehouse going to sue the city for improper oversight? So is the tax payer going to have to pick up the surcharge after the city settles with the other insurance companies that will be looking to minimze their payouts?
The UPS guy/car enthusiast stated "“I imagine there was a lot of lanolin and byproducts in there.” Sounds like he had a lot of researchable data and facts on a number of subjects; maybe he should be the city inspector as he seems to know all these facts.
#6 Jul 28, 2012
Several fire aperatus damaged and several firefighters needing to go to the hospital. If people paid more attention do you think that this fire/damage could have been avoided?
There appears to be fault to go around. So much has been overlooked over the years. I don't know exactly how all these individuals handles their insurance of their items but it appears to be a number of people at fault here.
One guy states that he smelled gasoline emitting from this car dismantling business. Being an all wood structure was this business causing flames and/or sparks?
Thank God no firefighters nor anyone else got seriously injured as the fire seemed to be fierce.
#7 Jul 28, 2012
I do understand that you were in a fight. You wanted nothing to do with it and you tired to stop it.(as you say)
So if you had nothing to do with that man dieing.(as you say)
Then PLEASE tell me what you were convicted of that sent you to jail???
Do you understand the question??Do you need me to type slower so you can understand??
Let me help you. Just fill in the blanks.
Hi my name is Kevin Lynch 20 years I was charge with__________ and went to jail for ______ years for this crime.
Please if you need more help just ask.
#8 Jul 29, 2012
If we lived in a socialist society we would all be driving the same cars and we wouldn't have this problem of those born with silver spoons in their mouths driving/storing expensive cars!
#9 Jul 29, 2012
To the feeble minded it's called storage. You crack me up because you bitch that these places are boarded up and then when one does try to have a business you bitch about that. Make up you your mind. Wow there was gasoline and cleaning chemicals there. No shit idiot if it was a barn for horses there would have been hay. I'm currently restoring a car, should I get a permit for that?
I just don't get the point of this story. The building had wooden walls and a wooden floor too. No shit are you telling me that 100 years ago they didn't build with Titanium?
#10 Jul 29, 2012
Now who is going to pay for all the insurance payouts? who is going to pay for the damaged fire apparatus? Who is going to pay for the injured firefighters care?
This isn't a phony call for socialism! This isn't a ridiculus claim of reverse phycology jealousness!
These claims and reverse phycology attempts to justify are foolish. It reminds me of the Romney defense as of recently "Obama is jealous and hating me because I am wealthy and successful"(paraphrase).
I guess when logic isn't in there comprehension then people resort to giving any lame excuse and explanation.
Successful is different than success. Romny was succesful at destroying thousands of American familys' as he tore their livelihoods away and sent them to China in order for him to be able to claim to being successful!
#11 Jul 29, 2012
Lynch you miserable loser, shut up. You're an awful human being and your opinions are invalid. Now go play in your moms basement you mouth breathing waterhead.
#12 Jul 29, 2012
Truth is you are a miserable loser who hates Romney because he has accumlated wealth. You live off the system and you use people financially, and that is why you will never have a thing.
#13 Jul 29, 2012
You Republicans are ridiculous with all of your money that was handed down to you in trust funds. You poke at those living off of the "system" but we can't poke jokes at those living off of their parent's wealth??? You have got to me kidding me. Spending money ludicrously on automobiles is just one example of these simple minded Repubs - they should be helping people, not spending their money on things they don't need or deserve.
#14 Jul 29, 2012
I agree with you Otis. When I die my kids are going to get some inheritance from all of my hard work and my business. I should have been smart like you and just be happy collecting welfare and taking the bus.
#15 Jul 29, 2012
Let me further elaborate. Do I own a nice car..Yes. When my dad passed away all he left behind was debt. Not everyone with a nice car is a trust fund baby you moron. If you want something you have to work for it.
#16 Jul 29, 2012
You are not serious right? I will type this slowly for you as I understand you have problems understanding the real world.
Lets say you pay $1000 a year for insurance for 40 years but never have an accident where you ever need it. If you decide to cancel you can't call the insurance company and tell them you want a $40,000 refund. The insurance company has plenty of money to cover this fire.
#17 Jul 29, 2012
Then go to China and get a job instead of sucking our system dry.
#18 Jul 29, 2012
Yes, all Republicans are trust fund babies. Unlike those hardworking liberal Kennedys, right? they worked oh so hard for their riches. Not a single dime being passed from papa Joe. And he made his money the old fashioned way, stealing from the government.
#19 Aug 3, 2012
It says you live in Leominster...and you own a nice car?! Talk about an oxymoron.
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