• Last modified 959 days ago (Dec. 24, 2019)


Greenhouse destroyed in blaze 'a great loss' to Peabody family

Staff writer

When Peggy Unruh’s greenhouse caught fire last week, it destroyed one of the connections with her now-deceased husband, Jim.

“Especially with the kids,” she said. “That was part of their father, and he died five years ago.”

Unruh was with her daughter when they realized the building was on fire Wednesday afternoon.

When I came out I couldn’t get to the water, so I grabbed a bucket and started throwing snow on it,” she said. “I didn’t know what else to do.”

As bad as the fire was, it would have been worse to come home from work and find the greenhouse burning, Unruh said.

“If I hadn’t been here, I would have been crushed,” she said.

The greenhouse was like a second living room, Unruh said.

In addition to plants, she kept a TV in the space, with Christmas decorations on the second floor, and sometimes held work functions there for Peabody Health and Rehab.

“It’s going to be a great loss,” she said. “I’m doing something in the house and think I need to go get the WD-40. I need to go out to the greenhouse. Oh.”

Most of Unruh’s decorations were safe, since she and her daughter had moved them to the house earlier in the day.

The greenhouse was engulfed when firefighters arrived, but they were able to keep it from spreading, Peabody firefighter Bailey Penner said.

“Our top priority was making sure the fire didn’t spread to the house,” he said.

Firefighters arrived in less than five minutes, which was critical to containing the fire, Penner said.

“Thankfully, a lot of the volunteers we have on our department work locally,” he said.

Unruh expressed extra appreciation since she said many of the firefighters probably had to leave their jobs to respond.

“A lot of them were probably at work,” she said. “They showed up, they were here and did a wonderful job.”

Snow prevented the grass from catching fire, said Penner, who was one of the firefighters in charge at the scene.

While there were no injuries, the greenhouse’s frame and partial walls were all that were left standing.

While unsure of the cause, Penner said the items in the greenhouse helped keep the fire burning.

“The paint in the greenhouse definitely helped keep it burning, but there were a lot of fuels in there,” he said.

Command was shared between Penner and Peabody firefighter Matt Litton, while assistance was provided from Florence, Burns, and Walton departments.

Last modified Dec. 24, 2019