“A moment in time”
THE NIGHT THE HIGHWAY BARN BURNED
On November 23rd, 1993 a large portion of our highway garage and equipment was destroyed by a fire. At the time, I worked there for the Templeton Sewer Department and a member of the fire depart- ment. All the workers had gone home and it was around supper time. I had just sat down to eat and the fire alert was going off and the dispatcher announced that a fire had been reported at the garage. She had sounded the alarm a few times with no firefighters responding so she notified the chief of the situa- tion not knowing that our base radio had already been destroyed in the fire so the alarm was not going out. She was told to switch over to a back-up system and got the alarm out to the firefighters. I drove one of the engines from the Templeton Center station and as I pulled into the highway garage yard, all the electric doors on the building were going up and down due to wires being shorted by the fire.
Firefighters from all four of the town stations fought the fire but with all the equipment burning in the building it was pretty well gone. They were able to save two of the bays thanks to a firewall separating them from the rest of the garage. Most of the towns snow fighting equipment were either lost or heavily damaged. With winter setting in, the town was in a lot of trouble.
Now just to show you the kind of neighbors we have, the entire neighboring town offered help of some kind. We were loaned two dump trucks with plows and sanders from the state and the town of Athol loaned us a complete truck all set-up. Anything that was needed was loaned to us by our various neighboring towns and city.
The town was able to rebuild the garage and get it back into operation with money from the towns insurance but there was not enough coverage to replace all the equipment that was lost. There were two six wheel dump trucks, a bucket truck for tree work, the street sweeper, a one ton dump truck and a front end loader that were a total loss. A lot of smaller equipment and hand tools were also destroyed. The remainder of the heavy equipment was sent out to different repair shops to be repaired. Much of what was repaired only lasted for a few years. For many years the town had to hire out the street sweep- ing and could only afford to sweep the main streets in town.
Today, the department still feels the effect of the fire. Due to the financial conditions of the town, they have not been able to replace much of the equipment some of which is the same equipment that went through the fire.