Fire Destroys Longtime Easthampton, MA, Business Ed’s Auto Body 

A Dec. 11 fire destroyed Ed’s Auto Body & Repair Inc. in Easthampton, MA. The Mechanic Street shop has been in business for more than 40 years. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Photo credit: Easthampton Police

The Massachusetts state fire marshal’s office is investigating a Dec. 11 fire that destroyed an Easthampton auto body shop that’s been in business for more than four decades.

Easthampton’s public safety complex received an alert at 5:08 a.m. from an alarm monitoring company for an alarm activation at Ed’s Auto Body & Repair Inc. at 24 Mechanic St. and shortly thereafter, a slew of 911 calls came in confirming a fire at the city business.

When emergency personnel arrived, they observed a large blaze roaring from the roof and the two garage doors at the shop.

“This fire posed a lot of challenges,” Fire Chief Christopher Norris said. “When we arrived, the roof had already partially collapsed. The open trusses in the roof allowed the fire to spread fast over into two of the garage bays, rendering our offense to exterior operations only.”

Additionally, electrical service lines from the building had burned and fell on the hydrant closest to the building, blocking access to that hydrant, he added.

“We couldn’t get near the closest fire hydrant, so our crews had to establish a water supply further back on Liberty Street,” said Norris, adding the hydrant was geared for a smaller hose than the one closest to the building. “On top of that, the natural gas line was also severed from its connection and began to contribute to the extension throughout the building. … Between the paints and thinners from the spray booth and highly flammable liquids and fuels, there were a number of challenges and high hazards in this fire.”

Emergency personnel also had to contend with a water main break on Liberty Street, which Norris attributed to the large volume of water needed to put out the fire. Traffic was closed on Liberty Street while crews from the city’s Department of Public Works made emergency repairs to the water main.

“It was a tough morning,” he said.

Fortunately, the business is open Monday through Friday, so no one was in the building and no one was injured, according to Norris.

The Easthampton Community Emergency Response Team was called out to assist police and fire departments in rolling up hand lines and stowing large diameter hoses, and also helped secure a safety perimeter along the Manhan Rail Trail.

Easthampton Fire also received mutual aid assistance from Northampton Fire Rescue, Southampton Fire Department, Barnes Air National Guard, Holyoke Fire Department, Westover Air Base and South Hadley Fire District 1.

Norris said the building is considered a total loss. At the time of the fire, there were vehicles in the garage, which may or may not still be salvageable. Detectives from the state fire marshal’s office will bring in heavy equipment to further investigate the cause of the fire.

We thank the Daily Hampshire Gazette for reprint permission.

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