Protect the exposure

The crew of the Tewksbury Fire Department’s Engine 3 was sent to 1005 Livingston Street today at 2:13 p.m., for a report of a barn fire.

Lt. Dave Carney and firefighters Robert Little and Oscar Forero arrived to find the barn fully engulfed.

Just 25 to 30 feet away from the burning barn were new condominiums. The vinal siding on those condos was already melted from the heat of the flames.

So, knowing they had a limited amount of water in their engine, where did Carney, Little and Forero aim their hoses?

At the condos, and the move drew praise from a superior officer who said a thermal imaging camera would later show the condos were about to catch fire when Engine 3 arrived and intervened. The barn was a lost cost anyway since it was already fully engulfed.

“It was a good save by Engine 3,” said Capt. Jim Bruce. “When you see that kind of fire your first idea is to put water on the barn, but training says you only have so much water, and if they didn’t immediately put water on the condos they would have caught fire.”

I grew up farm country in central Pennsylvania and I can tell you barns go up quick. This fire was a second-alarm as soon as crews arrived, and Engine 1 from Tewksbury and an engine from Andover soon joined Engine 3 at the scene, established a water supply from a hydrant, and surrounded the barn to douse it in water.

One man evacuated from the condos while the fire burned. Several other residents showed up before the fire was out. Several hours later when the barn fire was out, everyone who lives in the condos was able to return home. The condos suffered no further damage aside from melted siding.

The cause of the barn fire remains under investigation. No one was hurt.

The owner of the barn, Arnie Martel, said it was full of antique cars, and that the barn was not insured. Bruce said the blaze does not appear suspicious.

Martel said the barn was built in the 1920’s as part of the Cooney Family Farm. He was planning to renovate it.

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