The Natick Fire Department joined by specialty units from five nearby communities contained a brush fire Tuesday night that spread across 6 acres at the Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary. The cause of the blaze is undetermined, though dry conditions and a breeze helped it spread.
According to Natick Fire Chief Jason Ferschke, NFD dispatched a crew to investigate a possible brush fire on South Street at around 7:45pm on Tuesday. The Engine 2 crew found an area of open field/meadow containing tall grass, about 250′ x 250′, on fire. “There was a mild breeze and with the extremely dry conditions the fire quickly grew to approximately 6 acres in size,” Ferschke said.
Engine 2 requested support, which included crews in four other Natick vehicles, plus aid from Sherborn, Dover, Framingham, Wayland, and Hopkinton. The state’s Department of Conservation & Recreation’s fire service was also on the scene.
“Crews were able to contain the fire along the wood line with minimal extension into the dense wooded areas. Crews were on scene until after midnight and were back on scene this morning addressing hotspots,” Ferschke said. “I credit a great mutual aid system with tremendous teamwork for containing this to 6 acres and preventing it from extending further into the sanctuary.”
We reached out to Broadmoor to find out if any programs or services will be affected by the fire, but did not hear back. The outfit posted on its site that no large trees, bird houses, or trails were affected.
Special to Natick Report from the Natick Historical Society
The horrific fire in downtown Natick on Jan. 13, 1874, was a transformative event in the town’s history. It’s a bit too easy to forget that an earlier fire—on March 2, 1872—caused similar devastation and change in commercial and civic life in South Natick.
The South Natick blaze destroyed more than property. The March 4, 1872, edition of the Worcester Evening Gazette reported: “The fire is especially to be mourned from the fact that it has swept away the heart of the ‘old town’ rendered of interest to all, as the seat of Mrs. Stowe’s famous story.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe had published her iconic novel about American culture and small town life, Oldtown Folks, in 1869. She never lived in South Natick (her husband lived at 2 Pleasant St. as a child), but she based the characters in her book on her husband and other well-known residents of the village on the Charles River.
The Charles River Coffee House and other modern South Natick enterprises now occupy the site of the 1872 blaze. Volunteer firemen did their best, but the early morning fire rapidly consumed the Merchants Block and other buildings along Eliot Street (Route 16), then a dirt road west of the meetinghouse at Eliot and Union streets. Reportedly it started in the basement of a dry goods/clothing store, and spread to seven structures. The Evening Gazette estimated losses at more than $65,000 (more than $1.3 million in current dollars). No injuries were reported.
These businesses were wiped out: I. B. Clark’s Dry Goods Store, William Edwards’ Clothing Store, the L. A. Kingsbury meat market, E. Heuber’s barbershop, the Smith & Lewis grocery/drug store, the Goin Bailey hotel, and the Old Tavern, then called Eliot House, that was operated by Goin Bailey. Two homes burned down. Also, the South Natick Post Office and Engine House (fire department) were badly damaged. An 1880 History of Middlesex County noted: “But the energy of the people rebuilt at once larger and better than before.”
Perhaps the most tragic loss was the entire collection of the two-year-old Historical and Natural History Society of South Natick and Vicinity—the modern name is Natick Historical Society—which occupied an upper floor in the building where the fire started. At that time the society’s holdings principally were extensive plant and animal (chiefly birds) specimens that had been gathered by local volunteer collectors, as well as “historical relics treasured in private families for generations,” according to the Evening Gazette. Among the species of flora was the “second best” collection of ferns in the United States.
The young society’s entire collection was valued at $2,500 (current dollars: $56,000), and the Gazette said “The loss falls not upon the society alone but upon every lover of art or student of nature.” An enthusiastic benefactor traveled to South America in the following year to replace the scientific collections.
Numismatists note: A family history (Morrill Kindred in America, 1914) reported that 17 French and English coins dated 1696-1775 were found in the cornerstone of the Old Tavern.
Story and image courtesy of the Natick Historical Society
Natick History Museum: 58 Eliot Street (Route 16), Natick (508) 647-4841
The Natick Fire Department posted on Facebook Monday that it responded shortly before noon to a report that a partially submerged dump truck was in Lake Cochituate near AMVETS Post #79.
“The truck was unoccupied and there were no reported injuries. Units facilitated the safe removal of the vehicle while making sure there were no hazardous materials entering the water,” the fire department posted, without any explanation of how the truck might have gotten in there.
The Natick Select Board on Wednesday voted unanimously to enter into negotiations to hire Jason Ferschke, deputy fire chief in Westborough, as Natick’s new fire chief.
Natick Fire Chief Michael Lentini recently retired after 32 years on the job in a variety of capacities, and is currently serving as interim chief.
Natick started the process of looking for that successor at the start of the year, got 15 candidates, and whittled that down to 5 for a more intense screening process via a consulting firm. Out of that, the town’s Fire Chief Screening Committee narrowed their choices to 3 finalists:
- Daniel Dow – Deputy Fire Chief, Natick
- Jason Ferschke – Deputy Fire Chief, Westborough
- Thomas Murphy – Deputy Fire Chief, Weymouth
You can watch interviews conducted with the candidates by the Select Board on May 16.
Ferschke has been with the Westborough Fire Department since 2007, and started his career as a civil engineer. We’ve embedded his resume below.
Ask about Advertising on Natick Report.