Controlled burn of harmful materials in Chicopee caused evacuations, shelter-in-place orders

Hampden County

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Residents who live on over 20 streets surrounding Summer Street in Chicopee were asked to evacuate or shelter in place while authorities conducted a controlled burn of “energetic material” found at a home Thursday.

Evacuations and shelter-in-place orders were lifted late Thursday night after police and fire officials declared the area safe.

Flames could be seen all throughout Chicopee as state and local police, along with fire officials safely burned the materials found at 24 Summer Street. In total, 12 homes were evacuated from the immediate area and the window and doors were boarded up to protect the houses from the fire.

No injuries were reported and the “energetic material has been removed. Two homes did, however, sustain minor fire and water damage to the outside. Chicopee Mayor John Vieau said the response was out of an abundance of caution as first responders didn’t know the full extent of the situation.

The controlled burn took place between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Neighboring houses in the following areas were evacuated and boarded up ahead: High Street, Walnut Avenue, Pine Street, Walnut Street, and Summer Street.

Residents in over a dozen surrounding streets were also asked to close all doors and windows, gas and power were interrupted during the burn: Alvord Avenue, Arlington Street, 70 Broadway Street, Charles Street, Church Street, Cochran Street, Ellerton Street, Front Street, Grove Avenue, Grove Street, Hamilton Street, Harvard Street, Henshaw Street, High Street, Lincoln Street, Muzzy Street, Page Court, Paine Avenue, Pine Street, Summer Street, Walnut Avenue, Walnut Street.

Police also warned residents of loud noises. Power and gas have since been restored and the shelter in place order for most of the streets has been lifted as of 11 p.m. Thursday.

Police held a news conference regarding police and fire activity that had been going on in Chicopee Falls since Thursday morning.

Emergency dispatch received a 911 call at 3:52 p.m. Wednesday for a small excavator fire on Summer Street. Chicopee fire quickly put out the fire and discovered the “energetic material” that was improperly disposed of.

The hazard investigation was still ongoing by Thursday afternoon before the Massachusetts Police Bomb Squad conducted the controlled burn.

The Department of Fire Services was among the agencies that are there and a tent was set-up in the parking lot of the nearby offices of the Chicopee Public Schools. Students were dropped off at the Chicopee Public Library instead of the normal bus stops for the following routes:

  • St Stans 1
  • Belcher 2,3,4
  • Bellamy 18
  • Litwin 4
  • CCHS 12 & 15
  • Academy 2
  • Hampden Charter Bus 3

First responders will remain on Summer Street throughout the night to make sure there is no more danger.  

MAP: Pine Street and Summer Street in Chicopee

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