THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Fire sweeps through Peabody mulch yard

Destroys tanker, but no one is hurt

By Emma Stickgold
Globe Correspondent / June 21, 2010

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A fast-moving blaze broke out yesterday afternoon at a mulch company in Peabody, spreading thick, black smoke around the neighborhood.

The fire at J.D. Raymond Transportation on Farm Avenue destroyed at least two large construction vehicles including a tanker truck, said Peabody Fire Chief Steven Pasdon.

He was unable to say what sparked the blaze last night, and he estimated damage at more than $1 million.

One firefighter was hospitalized for smoke inhalation, the Associated Press reported.

Investigators will probably need to spend several days on site ensuring that no lingering embers remain buried in the tons of mulch and wood chip piles at the scene, Pasdon said.

Because of the thick smoke, State Police closed part of exit 45 connecting Interstate 95 to Route 128 yesterday afternoon and evening, causing traffic backups.

Cathy Hartigan said she was headed back to her home on Farm Avenue near the mulch plant at about 5 p.m. yesterday when she saw the smoke.

Other witnesses reported hearing explosions as the fire consumed the mulch yard, Pasdon said.

Hartigan was able to return to her home but said that police were keeping onlookers away from the site. She said the mulch yard is close to an old landfill.

Matthew J. Lee of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Emma Stickgold can be reached at estickgold@globe.com.

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