, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 7, 2013

Cause found for West Newbury house fire

Investigators: 'Improper disposal of smoking materials' led to blaze

WEST NEWBURY — The state fire marshal’s office announced yesterday that improper disposal of smoking materials was the cause of last Wednesday’s massive house fire on Main Street.

The mid-afternoon blaze, which forced the closure of West Newbury’s highest-profile road for several hours, burned an adjacent barn to its stone foundation and damaged the circa-1850 house located at 230 Main St. so severely that it was demolished the next day.

Jennifer Mieth, public information officer for the state fire marshal’s office, said her office strongly encouraged smokers to properly dispose of cigarettes and cigars.

“We get a lot of outdoor fires due to smoking materials,” Mieth said, adding that too often these items end up on dried piles of mulch or wood that can easily catch on fire.

West Newbury fire Chief Scott Berkenbush said the town’s building inspector visited the house soon after the fire and quickly determined the building had to be torn down. The next day, work crews fulfilled the building inspector’s wishes.

“It’s already gone,” Berkenbush said yesterday.

By the time first responders arrived at the house around 4 p.m. last Wednesday, the heaviest flames were concentrated inside an L-shaped structure connecting the main house and a barn. Fire quickly spread to the barn, causing it to burn so intensely, heat could be felt several yards away. Before the property was purchased by Carl and Linda Adler, who had hoped to renovate the main house, the barn housed Ringo’s Furniture, a popular stop for those seeking antiques.

It wasn’t long before the barn burned down to the ground. Fire also made its way into the house. For more than 35 minutes firefighters tried knocking down the blaze from inside, but when it was determined the fire had spread in between the ceiling and roof, compromising the structure, Berkenbush pulled firefighters out.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Port Pics
AP Video
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp
Special Features