By Ron Ayotte, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Late Sunday night, Jan. 20, Marlborough firefighters made quick work of a fire that had the potential to destroy a city landmark: the Immaculate Conception Church on Prospect Street. The fire was fought in extremely cold temperatures, which made the fireground very icy.
Fathers Steven Clemence and Andrea Fillipucci, two of the parish priests, discovered the fire. They had just finished watching the AFC championship game between the Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs and had gotten a call from the church’s alarm monitoring company. They went to the church and found a fire in the Sacristy, a section of the church where the vestments that priests wear and preparations for services are done. The Sacristy also had controls for the church’s PA system as well as artifacts used in church services. The monitoring company also called the Marlborough Public Safety Dispatch Center, who handles dispatch duties for the city’s Police Department, Fire Department and EMS.
Engine 2, Rescue 1, Ladder 2 and Car 5 were dispatched on the initial alarm. Battalion Chief Brian Gould received a report from Rescue 1 stating that they had fire showing from a window on the Main Street side of the building. Gould struck the box, filling out the assignment with Engine 1 for water supply and Engine 3 as the rapid intervention company. Off duty firefighters were recalled to staff the reserve engines. They were met at the door by Fathers Clemence and Fillipucci, who led them to the area of the church that was ablaze.
They had attempted to put the fire out using portable fire extinguishers, but the heat and fire was too intense and they were driven back. Patriot EMS personnel assessed them to make sure they were okay.
Assistant Chief Jeff Gogan arrived at the scene and assumed command of the fire. A second alarm was struck, bringing in fire apparatus and personnel from Hudson and Northborough for coverage.
Assistant Chief Gogan said “Group 2 did an excellent job and made a good stop. The fact that Father Clemence and Father Fillipucci were able to direct firefighters to the exact location of the fire helped in bringing the fire under control quickly”.
While the Sacristy area of the church was heavily damaged, the main sections of the church had just smoke and water damage. Church fires are hard to battle once the fire gains hold of the main structure.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Marlborough Fire Department’s Fire Investigation Unit and the State Fire Marshal. Damage estimates have been placed at over $100,000.
photos/courtesy Marlborough Fire Dept.