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Investigators seek cause of Concord fire

Firefighters and other officials returned to the scene of the fire on Saturday.
Firefighters and other officials returned to the scene of the fire on Saturday. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

CONCORD — Smoke lingered Saturday morning as fire investigators combed through the charred rubble of a historic mansion destroyed by a four-alarm fire on Friday.

The home at 240 Fairhaven Hill Road — built in 1899 for a descendant of John Quincy Adams, the country’s sixth president — is considered to be a “total loss,” fire officials said.

Crews remained on the scene overnight to douse flames from the fire that was reported by a caretaker shortly after 9:30 a.m. Friday.

More than a dozen local fire departments assisted on Friday.

Crews from Concord, Boxborough, and Stow were at the home until about 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, “working to extinguish hot spots” and demolish the property, according to Concord Fire Chief Thomas Judge.

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“I commend the work of our firefighters in dealing with this massive fire yesterday and through the night, and thank the numerous departments that provided local aid,” Judge said in a statement.

Fire officials could not put a dollar figure Saturday on how much damage the fire caused. The 6,500-square-foot home is valued at nearly $3 million, according to town records.

Judge said Friday that there are “no hydrants up in this part of town” and getting water to the area was a challenge.

“This was a massive fire, and getting it under control has been even more difficult due to the water pressure issues in the immediate area,” he said in a statement.

The neighborhood is served by a private water supply system installed in the 1920s. Access to the supply has emerged as a longstanding issue, some residents said Saturday.

Neil and Angela Gaeta have lived on Fairhaven Hill Road — just down the street from the historic mansion — for 47 years, and they’ve never been able to convince the town to do anything about the lack of access to public water and fire hydrants.

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“We’ve been fighting the town for years about contributing, but they won’t,” Neil Gaeta said, standing in his home Saturday.

He even had his own hydrant installed up the street years ago, but they weren’t able to keep enough water flowing to keep it operating.

“The problem is, it’s a private area, so the water system here is antiquated,” he said. “We pay the same taxes as anyone else, and yet the town doesn’t even plow our roads.”

Just down the street, on neighboring Fairhaven Road, Tom Diskin said it’s frustrating for his neighbors up the hill, but noted “It’s been like that forever.”

“That’s what the towns have the mutual aid agreements for. They help each other,” he said. “It is what it is.”

Diskin pointed out that “it’s not unusual” for smaller towns to rely on neighboring communities to fight fires. Based on the strength of the fire that hit the historic home Friday, he doesn’t think a more complex water supply would’ve helped.

“Even if it was in the center of Concord,” he said, “it would have been a major loss.”


Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.