Peth Home Lost to Fire
Family, Pets Escaped Harm
One of Braintree’s unique, historic homes—the 1835 Brookside Lodge on Peth Road—was destroyed Saturday night by a fire that started in an attached barn behind the house.
All residents of the home—Peter and Ginger Fruncek, their 8-year-old son, Oliver, plus their pets— safely escaped from the home, and no firefighters were injured.
The Frunceks said Tuesday that the fire was apparently started by a heat lamp they had set up for the chickens housed in a section of the barn behind the house. A shed connected house and barn.
Randolph Village Fire Chief Jay Collette said the fire was reported at about 10 p.m., in 911 calls made by neighbors. Callers noted that a second residence was at risk, Collette said. That home, a rental property owned by Stephen and Lee Cleveland, is less than 20 feet from the Fruncek residence.
The blaze—as it consumed the barn, and moved into the attached shed and then the second floor and attic of the Fruncek home—turned into a huge one. Collette said the glow could be seen from Ayers Brook Goat Dairy on Route 12; others reported seeing it from McDonalds at Exit 4. The barn was already “on the ground” when fire trucks from the three Randolph departments arrived, the chief said.
As firefighters worked to stop the fire’s progress into the home, they also put water on the small, rental home—built in 1802—immediately to the south.
That smaller structure was saved—although a corner of the home had started to burn and the grass behind it was blackened—but the Fruncek home was destroyed. The lovely facade of the home— with a porch that extends along the entire front, surmounted by three gables—still stands, scorched but largely intact.
The heat that night was intense and sparks flew far, even igniting a tree several hundred feet away, at the home of Stephen and Lee Cleveland, their daughter-in-law JLynn Cleveland said.
Fire Chief Collette noted it was fortunate there were no winds that night. Firefighters were back at their respective fire stations by about 4 a.m. on Sunday.
In an interview at The Herald Tuesday, Ginger Fruncek said she and her husband were in bed, reading, when they heard a strange sound.
“It was sort of like rain, but it was not supposed to be raining,” she said. Ginger opened a window and smelled smoke.
The couple ran downstairs and opened the door to the shed, to be hit by “heat and billowing smoke,” Ginger said. She slammed it shut.
Then came chaotic minutes, trying to call 911 from phones that already did not work, rescuing Oliver and the dog from upstairs, and heading to the neighbors for help.
Aware that the small house next door was at risk, Ginger said, she pounded on the door to awake tenant Noelle Duprey and her daughter.
After making sure the fire was called in, Peter went back into the home to pull out the dog, who wouldn’t follow Ginger out, and to grab a set of car keys. By that time, he said, the smoke alarms were sounding.
After moving the vehicle away from the fire, Peter put a garden hose on the fire “for 30 seconds, until I realized, ‘It’s lost.’”
The family’s three cats were located after the fire, but the chickens in the barn coop all perished.
Ginger, who noted that all were “secure and snug when I tucked them in,” added she would now advise against using heat lamps.
It was a close call for everybody: all that lay between the Fruncek’s bedroom and the barn was a wall, Peter said.
The Frunceks are now staying at the home of friends in Roxbury, and will likely seek a rental soon.
Their home was insured, they said, and they plan to rebuild. Peter is an architect and will design the home. The remains of their old home will be torn done soon, the Frunceks said.
The family lost everything in the fire, except perhaps fixtures, such as the bathtub, may be salvageable, Ginger said.
Friends have started a fund drive on their behalf on Facebook. Details on “Help Ginger, Peter, and Oliver after the house fire” can be found at tinyurl.com/y7kbsbkq.