Bitter Cold Hampers Firefighters at 2-alarm Blaze in Billerica

January 22, 2019
Firefighters battle cold, wind and a 2-alarm fire at 29 Andover Road in Billerica on Monday night. SUN/Rick Sobey Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

BILLERICA -- A house was destroyed on Andover Road Monday evening as firefighters battled a raging blaze -- and dealt with major hydrant issues -- on a bitterly cold and gusty night.

The home at 29 Andover Road, built in 1880, is a total loss, according to Billerica Deputy Chief Tom Ferraro.

There were no reported injuries, but Ferraro said they were not sure if anyone was in the house at the time of the fire. It’s owned by longtime Town Meeting member and well-known farmer Rome Capobianco, according to the Billerica assessor’s website. It’s unclear if he was home at the time.

The fire was called in by a passerby about 7 p.m., as temperatures outside plummeted to 3 degrees and felt like -16 with the wind.

Firefighters were soon ordered out of the 2.5 story wood-frame house, and efforts to battle the blaze became a defensive operation. Firefighters had water problems, including dealing with frozen hydrants and uncleared hydrants that were covered in snow.

“The place has become a block of ice,” Ferraro said. “It’s been quite a challenge.

“Between the ice and the fire damage, it’s going to be a challenge for us to get in there for hot spots,” he added.

Ferraro also reminded residents to clear out the area around hydrants.

The total value between the land and building is $422,000, according to the assessor’s website.

Capobianco, who has run for the Billerica Board of Selectmen and Planning Board, has lived in the home since 1968. The Cider Mill abutter has been called the “tomato king of Billerica” for his fresh produce stand at Price Farm near Billerica Center.

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.

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