Damage in fire’s wake

AMHERST – A fast-moving fire anned by strong winds from the west destroyed a boat store on Route 101A Monday and damaged a nearby building.

The blaze sent up huge clouds of black and gray smoke and backed up traffic in both directions for hours.

The fire appeared to have started in the side yard of Amherst Kayak & Canoe around noon. By 1 p.m., flames leaped over a roughly 100-yard space to the east and ignited part of the roof of Hendrix Molded Products. Also damaged was the boat shop’s connecting store, Sundance Spas.

Retired Milford Fire Chief Richard Tortorelli said he came to the scene in a Milford truck, and by the time they arrived, the east section of the building was fully involved in flames. He said the fire was under control at about 1:25 p.m.

Ambulances and a Salvation Army truck were on the scene, but no one appeared to be injured. Dennis Avard, who was eating lunch at Anytime Fitness directly across the highway, said he heard a smoke alarm at about 12:15 p.m. He said he went outside and saw flames and black smoke coming from the yard of Amherst Kayak & Canoe.

Tom Wilson, general manager of Hendrix Molded Products, said employees evacuated the building on their own, before firefighters arrived, by 12:15 p.m. following established emergency exit procedures. Wilson said he had been able to see the side yard of Amherst Kayak & Canoe from his office window, and that it contained wooden pellets and hot tubes.

Route 101A was closed in both directions for hours. Fire departments from Amherst, Bedford, Hollis, Manchester, Milford, Mont Vernon and Wilton responded.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet. com.