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Blaze Destroys Fire Station; Department Loses Everything

Blaze Destroys Fire Station; Department Loses Everything

The Daily Mail via YellowBrix

January 14, 2010

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ASHLAND — Fire companies from as far away as New Jersey are planning to donate gear and apparatus to the Ashland Fire Department in the wake of Sunday’s devastating fire that destroyed Ashland’s firehouse and adjacent town hall.

A human chain of volunteeers fought to save files of important papers, some of them dating back three centuries, and a few computers in the town clerk, justice court and assessor’s office when the Ashland firehouse/municipal hall was ravaged by flames early Sunday morning.

Everything else was lost as the blaze consumed or wreaked havoc on whatever got in its path including more documents, four fire trucks, a new ambulance and the contents of an in-house kitchen.

The desk of Town Supervisor Richard Tompkins, located in the heart of the fire’s hot spot, totally vanished with investigators blaming the tragedy on an electrical short in the wiring.

Damage estimates were placed easily in the millions of dollars as the structure, located on Route 23, was essentially gutted except for the town clerk’s area, the furthest room from the source.

All town offices were located in the building which also served as headquarters for the volunteer fire department and a community center. An expansion of the facility was planned for this summer.

Local officials and residents were visibly shaken by the sight of the charred ruins but thankful at the same time. “This is hard to take, losing both our town hall and our firehouse,” Tompkins said.


Screen Capture from WNYT Video Coverage

Sharing space in rural communities is a reality and while some neighboring towns have separate quarters, others do not, including Lexington, one of many volunteer units responding to the scene.

“This is devastating,” Tompkins said, staring at the still smoking debris, six hours after the intitial tones went out, at around 5:50 a.m., with temperatures well below freezing in the wintry mountains.

“My desk and the stuff on it are totally gone,” Tompkins said. “But they’re just material things. They can be replaced. The bottom line is nobody was hurt. That’s what counts.

“People say it all the time but you truly find out who your friends are when something like this happens. People from all over showed up to help and a lot more called in to see how we were doing.

“You don’t forget something like that, ever.” Citizens in Ashland will long remember January 10, 2010, an infamous day coming less than a week after the most recent fire department meeting.

A passing trucker noticed the flames, officials said, banging on the front door of Wanda Partridge whose home is next to the municipal hall/firehouse, built in the early 1970’s.