Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Fire destroys Whitingham barn

By Mike Eldred
WHITINGHAM- Fire completely destroyed two barns at Clyde Twitchell’s Town Hill Road farm Wednesday morning.
Firefighters from Whitingham, Wilmington, Halifax, and Readsboro rushed to the scene to battle the blaze, but Whitingham Fire Chief Stanley Janovsky said it was already too late to save the structure by the time firefighters arrived. "It was pretty close to fully involved already," he said. "We knew we were going to lose the barn, so we concentrated on defensive action to protect the house and other buildings near the barn."

Twitchell’s property sits at the top of a long hill with a constant rise. Knowing there was no water source on the property, Janovsky instructed the first units at the scene to drop four-inch hose from nearby ponds to the top of the hill. Janovsky says one of the runs was about a half-mile in length. The distance was long enough that Readsboro firefighters had to station a pumper truck in the middle of the run to keep up water pressure.

The strategy worked, and, although the barns were lost, firefighters had enough water to keep the flames under control and protect Twitchell’s house and other outbuildings. "Water wasn’t a problem, once we got it established, we never ran out," Janovsky said. "But there was so much fuel in the barn."

The fire destroyed an older barn, as well as a larger, more modern barn that Twitchell says he built himself, using lumber harvested and cut on the property. Twitchell said the fire was just showing when he called 911, but by the time he got back outside, flames had already advanced halfway down the larger of the two barns.

Janovsky said the new barn was full of the extended family’s belongings, from cars, boats, and snowmobiles to tractors and other farming equipment. Some antique tractors and equipment had been carefully restored. "I think they were able to save one boat," Janovsky noted.
The fire on Town Hill Road is the second barn fire in Whitingham in less than a week, both from the same cause – lightning. A fire damaged a barn at the Corse farm on Thursday night, although firefighters were able to save the main barn from significant damage.

Janovsky says the state fire marshal confirmed that Wednesday morning’s fire was started by a lightning strike from a storm that hit the area during the early morning hours. "It must have struck between 1 and 3 am, which was when a storm came through," Janovsky said. "The fire must have been smoldering all that time waiting to catch some air." A light, but steady wind blew across the hill Wednesday morning, and the fire found its air.

Wilmington and Halifax firefighters assisted at the scene, while Readsboro and Halifax teams kept pumping water from nearby ponds. Whitingham Ambulance also provided assistance at the scene. The Rowe, MA, fire department provided cover at the Whitingham Fire Station, and a Wilmington engine provided cover at the Jacksonville station.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Johnny Angel

No, Representative John Moran of Wardsboro isn't stumping for votes in the hereafter. He's addressing voters at Readsboro's Town Meeting. Although he appears to be wearing wings, it's only a trick of the camera - the wings belong to an eagle painted on the Readsboro School gymnasium wall.

Blue Moon

Once again, I'm sharing my addiction for moon photos. This was taken one cool, crisp, clear spring morning. I always find a daytime moon kind of exciting.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Hey Bullwinkle!

Deerfield Valley News reader Jay Wood spotted this bull moose on Route 100 in Dover, close to the Stratton town line. Moose shed their antlers annually, in the fall, after mating season. After a healing period, new antler buds sprout. If you look closely (click on the photo to enlarge) you can see his antler buds, already about 6 inches long.

Sunset over Hogback

A series of photos recently taken from Hogback Mountain.