Collapsed former Montague Lions Club catches fire

By JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer

Published: 05-09-2023 7:31 PM

MILLERS FALLS — The former Montague Lions Club lodge at 335 Wendell Road, which collapsed during a snowstorm this winter, caught fire Tuesday evening as a crew worked to remove debris.

According to Lauralyn Brown, who owns the property and lives across from the lodge, a cleanup crew was working at the site when a worker struck live wiring, causing sparks to erupt and ignite the collapsed building. Turners Falls Fire Chief Todd Brunelle said the resulting fire, which was reported at around 4:20 p.m., took about 20 minutes to get under control.

There were no reported injuries as a result of the fire, Brunelle said. Brown noted that nobody was trapped inside what remained of the structure when the fire started.

Firefighters from Turners Falls, Montague Center, Erving, Greenfield, Bernardston, Northfield, South Deerfield and Wendell responded. Other responding agencies included the Montague Police Department and American Medical Response (AMR) ambulance.

The former Montague Lions Club lodge was built in the 1970s, according to Brown.

“In its heyday, with the Lions Club, people had a lot of fun up here in this building,” she explained.

Brown said she purchased the property from the club roughly 20 years ago and converted it into a goat farm. She noted she had no idea there had been live wires remaining in the building until sparks flew on Tuesday afternoon.

“I had no knowledge that it was still connected,” she said. “For 20 years, I’ve been under the impression that there’s no power to it. At one point I knew there was, but for 20 years, the whole time I’ve lived here, I’ve never gotten a bill.”

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Eversource employee Austin Porrovecchio, whose company had been running power to the building, said it is “very, very rare” that Eversource encounters similar situations where wires remain live unbeknownst to the property owner.

“It could’ve just been something as simple as however long ago, somebody just pulled the meter because they weren’t using the barn and they just covered the meter and didn’t notify anybody that they didn’t need the power, so it was never removed,” Porrovecchio explained.

Brunelle confirmed the fire was accidental and is not being considered suspicious.

“We caution anyone to assume that a wire is live without confirmation from a power representative,” he advised.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-930-4231 or jmendoza@recorder.com.

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