Sandisfield's highway garage, plow fleet destroyed hours after first snow

A firefighter surveys the smoky remains of the Sandisfield Highway Garage destroyed by Sunday morning's fire.

SANDISFIELD — A devastating fire Sunday morning destroyed the town's highway garage and all the snowplowing trucks, including the newest vehicle to the fleet.

Sandisfield and several fire departments from surrounding communities were called to 3 Silverbrook Road around 9:40 a.m.where Sandisfield Fire Chief Ralph Morrison found the municipal building ablaze.

"The flames were going through the roof. I could see the smoke from a mile away, and that's not a good sign," he said.

Shortly after the fire started in the cinder-block building, at least one neighbor heard what sounded like explosions.

"I thought it was the end of the world," said Nina Pinksi.

It's believed Pinski heard the truck tires bursting from the intense heat.

With the help of Monterey's ladder truck, a natural water source, as well as firefighters from Otis, Tolland and two neighboring Connecticut towns, the blaze was under control within an hour.

"The ladder truck flooded the fire from the top and we were able to pump water from the Clam River," noted the chief.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the State Fire Marshal Office in cooperation with local fire officials.

No firefighters nor any town highway workers were injured, as the employees had wrapped up their snowplowing duties and left the garage 10 minutes before the fire broke out, according to Morrison.

All four trucks used for snow plowing were heavily damaged, the newest one pressed into service for the first time to clear the roads from Saturday's winter storm.

Town officials will hold an emergency meeting Monday morning to discuss a snowplowing contingency plan, especially with more snow predicted for overnight Monday into Tuesday.

Author and journalist Simon Winchester contributed to the story

Dick Lindsay can bee reached at and 413-496-6233