Propane blast torches home in Rowe

Firefighters from more than a dozen departments responded to 32 Davenport Branch Road in Rowe on Tuesday afternoon after an excavator struck a propane tank, setting the house on fire.

Firefighters from more than a dozen departments responded to 32 Davenport Branch Road in Rowe on Tuesday afternoon after an excavator struck a propane tank, setting the house on fire. STAFF PHOTO/ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Firefighters from more than a dozen departments responded to 32 Davenport Branch Road in Rowe on Tuesday afternoon after an excavator struck a propane tank, setting the house on fire.

Firefighters from more than a dozen departments responded to 32 Davenport Branch Road in Rowe on Tuesday afternoon after an excavator struck a propane tank, setting the house on fire. STAFF PHOTO/ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Firefighters from more than a dozen departments responded to 32 Davenport Branch Road in Rowe on Tuesday afternoon after an excavator struck a propane tank, setting the house on fire. Fire trucks  took turns dropping off water at a portable storage tank.

Firefighters from more than a dozen departments responded to 32 Davenport Branch Road in Rowe on Tuesday afternoon after an excavator struck a propane tank, setting the house on fire. Fire trucks took turns dropping off water at a portable storage tank. STAFF PHOTO/ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Firefighters from more than a dozen departments responded to 32 Davenport Branch Road in Rowe on Tuesday afternoon after an excavator struck a propane tank, setting the house on fire.

Firefighters from more than a dozen departments responded to 32 Davenport Branch Road in Rowe on Tuesday afternoon after an excavator struck a propane tank, setting the house on fire. STAFF PHOTO/ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Firefighters from more than a dozen departments responded to 32 Davenport Branch Road in Rowe on Tuesday afternoon after an excavator struck a propane tank, setting the house on fire.

Firefighters from more than a dozen departments responded to 32 Davenport Branch Road in Rowe on Tuesday afternoon after an excavator struck a propane tank, setting the house on fire. STAFF PHOTOS/ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Firefighters from more than a dozen departments responded to 32 Davenport Branch Road in Rowe on Tuesday afternoon after an excavator struck a propane tank, setting the house on fire.

Firefighters from more than a dozen departments responded to 32 Davenport Branch Road in Rowe on Tuesday afternoon after an excavator struck a propane tank, setting the house on fire. STAFF PHOTO/ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 07-09-2024 2:58 PM

Modified: 07-09-2024 7:07 PM


ROWE — At least 42 firefighters responded to battle a house blaze at 32 Davenport Branch Road on Tuesday that resulted from an excavator striking a propane tank, according to Charlemont Fire Chief Dennis Annear.

The fire was reported at around 1:15 p.m. after a man who was operating an excavator behind the house hit a propane tank, causing it to explode and set the home and excavator ablaze, Annear explained. No residents or firefighters were injured, and the operator of the excavator also was not injured, according to firefighters. The building was severely damaged, with only its chimney and basic structure remaining.

“It was one gentleman living in the house. I don’t know if he had family or not, but he got the house about a year ago,” Annear said.

Fire trucks from more than a dozen departments including Greenfield, Hawley, Shelburne, Buckland, Rowe, Charlemont, Colrain, Conway, South Deerfield and Florida lined Davenport Branch Road, each one taking turns dropping off water at a portable storage tank in front of the burning house. Additional personnel came from Vermont departments in Halifax, Whitingham, Wilmington and Readsboro. Annear noted each tanker brings about 2,000 gallons of water.

Neighbor BJ Roche, who lives at 37 Davenport Branch Road, said she felt her house rumble and heard a “loud boom” when the propane tank exploded. Stepping outside, she said she later saw smoke rising above the house.

“We were in the house and we heard this roar, and I thought it was heavy machinery coming down the street. Then I thought it was an earthquake — there was this rumble,” Roche recounted. “I came up and there was smoke coming out of the windows, smoke everywhere.”

By 3 p.m., after the fire had already been burning for about two hours, the excavator was still on fire.

The Rowe Police Department could be seen directing traffic. Massachusetts State Police also responded.

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Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.