By Oliver Good
Peabody Gazette Bulletin – March 23, 2017
A Peabody garage that burned to the ground melted siding on a neighboring house and seriously damaged a ski boat early Sunday morning at 201 Olive St.
First on scene, Peabody fire chief Mark Penner said the garage was fully engulfed and the owner was outside with a garden hose attempting to battle the blaze without much luck.
“It was lit up pretty good when we pulled up,” Penner said. “Driving up the street it was so bright that you almost thought there were a couple houses on fire.”
Florence and Marion firefighters also responded to the scene quickly, he said, however; it was immediately apparent that the garage was burning beyond the point of no return, and fire crews took a defensive approach, attempting to protect the surrounding structures by showering them with gallons and gallons of water.
“It was really, really hot; so hot that it melted the vinyl siding on the north neighbor’s house,” Penner said. “It was about 25 feet away. The guy [owner of the garage] had asbestos siding on his house; that was the only thing that saved his.”
Nevertheless, the owner’s house did not escape damage.
“The plastic shades on this inside of his house melted to the windows,” Penner said. “When we shot water on the house to cool the windows, it cracked the windows.”
The fire burned about half the ski boat, he said.
“It was backed up into the garage,” Penner said. “I don’t know if it had fuel in it or what but we put a lot of water on that boat.”
Penner said the garage was so charred more than four hours later when the blaze subsided that firefighters had trouble identifying its contents. He said the owner told a firefighter that he had been using an air compressor and there was a portable heater inside when the fire started.
“That portable heater is possibly suspect,” Penner said. “But we couldn’t find a cause.”