A year after blaze, Marion firefighters visit rebuilt Camp Hadley

Mar 10, 2024

MARION — Six Marion firefighters and two fire department vehicles came to Camp Hadley on Saturday, March 9. Only 367 days before, the camp used by Marion Boy Scouts Troop 32 and Cub Scouts Troop 32 burned.

That March 2023 fire, originating from a neighbor’s property, damaged the site’s main cabin. A storage shed was a total loss. The neighbor, Fred Tahtinen, suffered burn injuries.

A year later, as Marion fire personnel yet again walked the 21-acre Camp Hadley just off County Road, smoke yet again filled the air.

The firefighters, some of whom had responded to the 2023 blaze, arrived this time to give a fire safety presentation to the scouts. The smoke emanated from a grill barbequing food for a cookout.

“It’s been a long year,” Camp Hadley trustee Joseph Zora said.

He led the rebuild of the site’s main cabin, which has a new roof and is insulated, according to Zora.

The left wall of the building burned during the fire, but now the cabin was in the “best shape” it’s been in 60 years or longer, Zora said.

Gathered in that rebuilt main cabin, Zora and Tahtinen spoke. Others — scouts, parents, firefighters — watched.

A former scout himself, Tahtinen said his memories of Camp Hadley were “wonderful.” He said he was heartbroken about the fire, devastated as the wind came and spread it.

“I feel blessed that things have turned out this way,” he said.

Tahtinen suffered burns on his right leg from fighting what began as a brush fire on his property. He spent three months in a Rhode Island hospital, he said.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Zora said to the group in the cabin. “I’m thanking him for you guys that he showed up.”

A few minutes earlier, Marion fire personnel — Christopher Peckham Jr., Seth Tomasik, Jacob Ouellette, Zach Lynch, Tom Warren and Lt. Mike Still — presented fire safety tips and gave tours of Engine 1.

Peckham Jr., Tomasik and Ouellette responded to the 2023 fire. Mutual aid from Rochester, Mattapoisett, Wareham and Onset joined Marion as well.

“That’s what we do,” Lt. Still said.

The first fire engine to respond in March 2023 parked in the same location — though facing the opposite direction — where it stood on March 9, 2024, according to Ouellette.

Now, Lynch and Ouellette mock operated fire extinguishers as part of the presentation to scouts and others. They moved to the topic of campfire safety.

Ouellette picked up a clump of ground. Dry pine needles — the material Ouellette held — can spread fire, he said.

A year and two days ago, the grass at Camp Hadley smoldered.

The dry pine needles in Ouellette’s fingers fell back to the camp floor. Inside the nearby cabin, Tahtinen and Zora stood. The group moved inside to join them.