Oxford, Mass. – At approximately 8:08 pm on Thursday, January 20th, 2023, the Oxford Fire Department was dispatched to the area of Route 20 (Southbridge Rd) and Leicester St for reports of a possible structure fire with heavy smoke in the area.
An Oxford Police Officer was the first to arrive on the scene and reported heavy smoke showing, but no flames, from an abandoned house on the corner of Route 20 and Leicester St (60 Leicester St).
Based on the Police Department's reports the call was upgraded to a working fire assignment while firefighters were still enroute.
Oxford Ladder 2, who was the first fire apparatus to arrive, confirmed a working structure fire in a 2 and a half story vacant building. Based on the structure being a known vacant building, the decision was made to only perform exterior operations in order to preserve the safety of responders.
As additional units arrived crews reported the fire intensifying, at one point fully involving the structure.
Multiple ladder pipes and handlines were rapidly put to work spraying thousands of gallons of water on the fire.
Approximately an hour into the fire, a crew was sent into the structure to perform an assessment of stability and determine if an interior attack could be performed. This investigation determined an exterior attack was still the appropriate method and crews were evacuated from the building.
While crews were able to make use of the towns hydrant system, they did need to make multiple requests to have the pressure in the area increased. The water company was able to activate additional pumps supplying water to the hydrants on Route 20.
The incident went to a modified 3rd alarm assignment. A full 2nd alarm was utilized on the fireground and additional companies, from the 3rd alarm assignment, were brought in to cover the town of Oxford.
During the fire, crews were faced with chilly (approximately 38 degrees) temperatures and heavy rains. These conditions factored into smoke from firefighting operations remaining low to the ground making visibility on the scene reduce to nearly zero at times.
No injuries were reported during the fire.
The fire is being investigated by the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Agencies that responded, or were dispatched, included the Oxford Fire Department, Oxford Police Department, Charlton Fire Department, Auburn Fire Department, Webster Fire Department, Dudley Fire Department, Sutton Fire Department, Millbury Fire Department, Spencer Fire Department, Douglas EMS, Grafton Fire Department, Southbridge Fire Department, and the Providence Canteen.