A malfunctioning tractor sparked a five-alarm fire that caused an estimated $4.5 million worth of damage to a 100-year-old Sudbury greenhouse complex early this morning, according to the state fire marshal’s office.
The tractor smoldered for hours before the fire broke out, according to a statement.
“[Authorities] know the tractor was last used earlier at the end of the business work day, and it’s entirely possible that whatever the malfunction was just slowly smoldered until it created a fire,” said Jennifer Mieth, spokeswoman for the state Department of Fire Services.
Firefighters responded to the blaze at Cavicchio Greenhouses Inc. on Codjer Lane at about midnight, said Sudbury Fire Chief Ken MacLean. An employee who may have been a security guard reported the fire, he said.
“When we got there, quite a bit of fire was showing,” MacLean said. “The crew did an excellent job of keeping the fire from spreading to the adjacent greenhouses. Even though 30 percent was lost, 70 percent was saved.”
The fire was brought under control by about 4 a.m.
"The pallets got going and the fertilizer got going, so it was a stubborn fire," MacLean said.
The greenhouses "had flowers in them ready for delivery to stores," he said.
The wholesale company, which was established in 1910, provides plants and supplies to gardening and landscaping businesses, municipalities, and golf courses in New England, according to its website.
Seventy-five to 85 firefighters were necessary to fight the blaze, partly because of a problem with the water supply. The nearest municipal hydrants were about a half-mile away, and yard hydrants offered a limited supply of water at a relatively low pressure to prevent the rapid spread of fire early on, MacLean said. Two fire engines pumped water from a pond on the property to supply other apparatus.
No injuries were reported.
“We’re grateful for that because a lot of people were there [working under] trying circumstances, and everyone went home safe and sound,” MacLean said.
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