Amherst, MA – Fire at Eric Carle Museum is extinguished by sprinkler system; Damage contained to water heater closet

The water heater closet at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book art Tuesday caught fire but was doused by the sprinkler system before the fire spread to the museum. Fire Chief Tim Nelson said combustibles like plastic buckets and brooms were stored around the heater, which shorted out and then the combustibles caught fire.

“It’s a good thing the sprinkler head was in the closet,” Nelson said. He said people forget that a water heater closet is for the heater, not general storage. He said the museum was allowed to reopen to staff and that fire crews got most of the smoke out, however, he said the smell of burnt plastic lingered.

According to the museum’s Facebook page, the museum is closed for the day. The heater will need to be replaced, Nelson said. “The sprinkler did what it was supposed to do,” Nelson said. “If they followed good housekeeping practices, we wouldn’t have been there at all.”

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