Billerica

Junkyard fire injures one, sends black smoke high above Billerica

A man was taken by a MedFlight ambulance to Lahey Hospital and Medical Center.

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One person was severely burned in a fire that tore through a junkyard in Billerica, Massachusetts, on Friday afternoon and sent thick plumes of black smoke billowing into the sky that could be seen from miles away.

The city's police and fire departments responded to the blaze at Jack's Used Car & Parts, a scrap yard on Town Farm Lane. Fire officials said it started around 3 p.m. in a 50 by 100-foot building made out of steel with several vehicles parked nearby it.

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"The amount of smoke that was going up looked pretty dramatic," said Rory Nickerson, who works nearby. "It's a pretty good size junkyard, you go to the other side of the railroad tracks and it goes down all the way to the river."

Firefighters faced labor intensive work at the scene near the Concord River, where smoke was pouring out of the building.

Everyone was already evacuated by the time emergency crews arrived, including the employee who was hurt. The man was taken by a MedFlight ambulance to Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington. There was no immediate update on his condition.

The roof did collapse, and the building itself kind of melted down, according to Fire Chief Robert Cole.

In addition to intense flames, firefighters say they had to deal with water supply issues on scene, as well, because the nearest fire hydrant is about 1,800 feet away.

"This junkyard is set back behind railroad tracks that go through North Billerica," Cole explained. "There's no hydrant system that goes over the bridge to go over the railroad tracks..."

Firefighters at a scrap yard fire in Billerica, Massachusetts, on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023.
NBC10 Boston
Firefighters at a scrap yard fire in Billerica, Massachusetts, on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023.
Smoke from a fire in Billerica, Massachusetts, on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023.
NBC10 Boston
Smoke from a fire in Billerica, Massachusetts, on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023.

The fire chief said there were also several explosions as the fire roared surrounded by countless vehicles.

"There were propane tanks in the building, there's gasoline, oil in all of these vehicles that they have to take away from the vehicles before they store them, it was a lot of hazardous materials," Cole said.

Firefighters from Burlington, Chelmsford, Lowell and Tewksbury assisted on scene.

Leominster police asked the public to avoid the area, noting that detours were set up on Billerica Avenue and Woburn Street.

Fire investigators determined the blaze was accidentally caused by a torch that was being used on a vehicle.

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