Caretakers save animals during fire at Springfield vet clinic

Photos and videos by Shawn Cunningham

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC

A fire damaged the Springfield Animal Hospital tonight, Thursday, Jan. 19, but quick action by employees saved all of the animals who were staying at the facility and firefighters were able to knock down the fire quickly.

Area fire departments respond to a fire at the Springfield Animal Hospital on Thursday night.

Just before 8:30 p.m., the Springfield Fire Department was called out for the report of a fire at the veterinary clinic on River Street. When they arrived, they found smoke and flames coming from the back corner the building on the northwest side.

According to Springfield Fire Chief Russ Thompson, veterinary employees were working late and as soon as they realized what was happening, removed the animals.

A utility worker shuts off power before firefighters enter the clinic.

“They got the animals out early so they didn’t suffer from breathing smoke,” said Thompson. “It couldn’t have worked out better for the safety of the animals.”

Hospital owner Dr. Dena Meehan said that she was uncertain how many animals had been in the building but confirmed that all had been removed safely. The animals are spending tonight either at the Claremont Animal Hospital or with employees of the Springfield clinic.

The cause of the fire is still uncertain although Chief Thompson noted that it occurred where there are two flues and the crematorium. Once the blaze was knocked down, firefighters began looking for places that could reignite later.

“They’re pulling off the sheathing to chase the fire into the deep char area around the roof trusses,” said Thompson, “and we’ll have our origin-and-cause team in here to figure out what happened tomorrow or maybe sooner.”

Chester firefighters in “interior” gear prepare to enter the clinic.

“We’re chasing hot spots but trying to do as little damage as possible,” said Thompson. “We have two salvage crews trying to cover high value items like X-ray machines to limit the damage.”

While Thompson was speaking, a plume of steam rose from the building as a stream of water hit the crematorium area.

“There’s a lot of latent heat in there,” said Thompson, adding that it was hard to determine when they would leave the scene. Typically, he said, a mop-up crew might stay on the scene to keep an eye out for flareups and restrict access to the building if it was a hazard.

In addition to Springfield, firefighters from Chester, Bellows Falls, Walpole, Ascutney and West Weathersfield responded to the blaze, while the Charlestown Fire Department covered the Springfield station.

All of the fire departments were being released from the scene shortly after 11:30 p.m. At 12:15 a.m. Springfield Fire reported that it would maintain a truck at the scene through the night.

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