CHESHIRE — A local contracting business was destroyed by a fire Thursday evening.

J. Richardson Contracting, at 1251 Windsor Road, was engulfed in flames when town police and fire officials arrived about 7:20 p.m., according to Cheshire Police Officer Michael Alibozek.

The building, formerly a tractor dealership, is located on a rural road without much traffic.

"It was going for awhile, before anyone noticed," Alibozek said.

Nobody was inside the building at the time of the fire, and no responders were injured.

Because of the level of destruction, officials were unable to determine a cause of the fire, said Jennifer Mieth, public information officer for the state Fire Marshal's Office.

The fire was accidental and likely heating-related, she said.

Fire crews from Savoy, Adams, Lanesborough and Hinsdale provided aid at the scene, and the Dalton Fire Department covered the Cheshire fire station.

Forest wardens from the town of Adams and North Adams Ambulance also responded.

The walls and roof of the building's attached garage had already collapsed when officials arrived.

"It was one of the worst [fires] — I'm going to say the worst, I've ever been on," said Cheshire Fire Chief Thomas Francesconi. "As far as the totality of the circumstances."

Officials used Hoosac Valley High School hydrants for additional water to fight the fire, but they soon froze.

Tankers then had to use water from a hydrant downtown, about 15 minutes away.

On the way to the fire, one engine went off the road and had to be towed out.

"The roads were so bad, you couldn't see the shoulder," Francesconi said.

The second engine suffered a mechanical problem and couldn't pump water.

The Adams Fire Department provided an engine. Cheshire's first engine was soon pulled out of the snow.

The owner of the business, Jason Richardson, said he had moved to that location five months ago.

"The only thing left is the foundation, really," he told The Eagle during a phone interview Friday.

Richardson, who lives down the road, said he received a call Thursday night alerting him to the fire.

"When I looked out the window, I could see the glow," he said. "It was already too late."

Crews remained on the scene until after midnight, Alibozek said.

The building contained two vehicles, along with shop equipment.

"I'm still kind of in shock," Richardson said. "Hopefully, we'll be able to rebuild."

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at, at @BE_pleboeuf on Twitter and 413-496-6247.