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Wychwood Gatehouse Fire Deemed Accidental, Officials Say

The fire occurred at the historic Wychwood home before the new owners officially moved in.

A fire tore through 120 Wychwood Road on Dec. 6. Credit: Nicole Bitette
A fire tore through 120 Wychwood Road on Dec. 6. Credit: Nicole Bitette

A fire that tore through the historic Wychwood Gatehouse on Friday night has been determined as accidental, according to Westfield Fire Chief Dan Kelly.

An investigation by the department revealed that the fire started on the first floor with a switch for an exterior light fixture, Kelly said.

Firefighters received the initial call at 7:19 p.m. Friday and arrived on scene at 7:22 p.m., but according to witnesses, the fire may have been burning for 45 minutes prior, according to Kelly.

When firefighters arrived, there was visible fire on the first and second floors, as well as through the roof that faced East Broad Street.

Mutual aid was dispatched to the fire and the blaze was under control at about 10:20 p.m. Firefighters stayed on scene overnight due to areas with hot spots and the age of the structure, according to Kelly.

The house was recently purchased and the new homeowners were in the process of moving in, so the house was currently vacant, Kelly said.

No firefighters were injured, he added.

A building inspector from the town said he believed the home would be repairable.

The historic home was sold in November for $750,000, although listed for $850,000. (See photos of the interior, here).

The Wychwood South Gatehouse was noted in Westfield's Historic Plan as one of the town's "outstanding structures." The plan refers to the home, as well as the smaller gatehouse across the street, as "whimsical interpretations of medieval fairy tale houses."

On the evening of the fire, one of the homeowners was arrested at the scene for aggravated assault on a police officer, disorderly conduct and obstruction the administrator pursuant of a fire investigation.

2ndWave December 09, 2013 at 02:05 PM
This article says that firefighters received their first call at 9:19 pm, and arrived at 9:22 pm. However, shortly before 8 pm, East Broad St was already closed between Gallows Hill Rd and Jefferson Ave . Both police and one or two firetrucks were already on the scene. I was in the line of traffic being diverted down Gallows Hill Rd at that time. I know that officials can work fast in these circumstances. However, road barriers were all up in place, police cars were positioned, and police were directing traffic. I would guess that everything was up in place by no later than 7:45 pm. The time frame in this article is completely skewed.
NJD December 09, 2013 at 02:41 PM
Agreed. I dropped my daughter at a friends house on Canterbury Rd at 7:40 and the police were just starting to turn people around on East Broad Street. There were no fire engines on the scene yet but I saw them pass by as I returned to my home on the south side of town.
Nicole Bitette (Editor) December 09, 2013 at 02:54 PM
Hi all, Thanks for your comments. I misheard the Chief as saying 9:19, but he actually said 19:19. It has been adjusted. Best, Nicole
2ndWave December 09, 2013 at 03:02 PM
Thx Nicole.
karen egert December 09, 2013 at 10:26 PM
This is really sad .... I feel terrible for this person . She just bought the house .....

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