Family regroups after Brookline lumberyard fire, grateful for what remains
BROOKLINE - Less than a day after their showroom and warehouse were destroyed by fire, the owners of Bingham Lumber were ready to get back to work, and as they start making a record of all they've lost, the Binghams are grateful for what remains.
The three-alarm fire reported just after 8 p.m. at Bingham Lumber's main building required more than 100 firefighters from 15 communities in New Hampshire and Massachusetts to extinguish, said Fire Chief Charlie Corey, and Route 13 was shut down for hours as tankers brought water in from Lake Potanipo.
The fire appears to have started in the warehouse, an old saw mill that was converted into offices, a showroom for the Bingham's specialty lumber and flooring, and a warehouse.
Corey said efforts to kill the flames were hampered by the tin roof on the building that measures 196 feet long by 64 feet wide, as well as an interior tin ceiling that held in the heat. The cause of the fire is not yet known, but its origin does not appear suspicious, fire officials said.
Before the smoke had even cleared, Tom and Rebekah Bingham and their employees, who all showed up for work on Friday morning, were getting ready to open. An office in another warehouse will serve as temporary headquarters for the operation that serves homeowners, contractors, architects and designers, offering unique reclaimed lumber.
"As soon as the fire department gives us the go-ahead, we're going to be open for business," Rebekah Bingham said.
The Binghams have owned the business for 12 years and have found a niche in reclaimed lumber, unique specimens taken from barns, and even logs that have been submerged for decades. Among the things they lost in the fire, according to Tom Bingham, were seven handcrafted tables, made for an architectural firm in New York City.
"They were all wrapped up and ready to be shipped but we held off because of Hurricane Sandy," said Tom Bingham. "They're gone now."
Rebekah Bingham said the loss of the tables, worth thousands of dollars, is a blow at a time when the economy was just beginning to look up and their business was starting to move again.
And though they're insured, they've learned the hard way that insurance isn't enough.
"We've had fires before," she said. "Insurance never quite covers everything."
Still, the remaining buildings and warehouses, stocked with wood, were saved, and an important member of the family made it out alive.
Hadley, a boxer dog, has been a trusted friend for the Binghams, and the mascot at Bingham Lumber, for nine years. Because the Binghams have been living with Tom's parents while they build a new house, they were crating Hadley in the office of the lumber company at night. Hadley was the only one in the building when the fire started. But fortunately, one of the first firefighters on scene, Assistant Chief Scottie Knowles, also works for Bingham Lumber part-time, and knew Hadley was there, said Rebekah Bingham.
"Scottie was able to go in and get Hadley out, and we're so thankful," she said. "It's bad enough to lose the building, but it would have been awful for the kids to lose their dog, too."
When they learned of the fire, the Bingham's two children, Gianna, 8, and Wyatt, 9, were frightened that the dog that had been part of their lives since Wyatt was a year old, had died.
"When I was watching the fire on the news, I thought Hadley was gone," said eight-year-old Gianna Bingham, daughter of owners Rebekah and Tom. "But our friend Scottie saved him. I was so glad when he came home."
While forklifts shifted loads of wood around and insurance adjustors and inspectors from the state Fire Marshal's office made their rounds, Rebekah Bingham was already talking about getting back to work.
"As soon as the fire department gives us the go-ahead, we're going to be open for business," Rebekah said.