The Recorder – Embers on your wedding day: Orange couple marries during factory fire, forced to cancel reception

Published: 6/10/2022 4:06:15 PM

Modified: 6/10/2022 4:04:06 PM

ORANGE — Rain on your wedding day is bad enough. But embers and a power outage? That’s next level.

Orange residents Bernice Herzig and Douglas Orrell were forced to cancel the reception following their outdoor noon nuptials at Butterfield Park on June 4 after a massive fire 0.2 miles away caused road closures, knocked out power and showered the area with ash starting at 11:45 a.m. Three juveniles — ranging in age from 12 to 14 — now face arson charges in connection with the fire that destroyed the former cereal factory at 16-36 West River St. and damaged surrounding buildings.

“I’m in a convertible, beautiful day … going to make my entrance and we take the detours. Then we get to the gas station (on the opposite side of the intersection as the fire) and we have to go through there, and all the embers and everything was flying. I had it on my dress,” Herzig, 49, said Thursday standing next to her new husband at the site where they tied the knot. “He was joking around that I was going to be late for my own wedding and, sure enough, I was, but it wasn’t my fault.”

The lovebirds, who met a year ago via Facebook, said they could hear the former factory collapse.

“I looked up and saw all the black smoke,” said Orrell, 48. “We even saw the flames coming up.”

The Rev. Dan Johnson, of Calvary Baptist Church in Turners Falls, officiated the exchanging of vows under Butterfield Park’s bandstand, but the widespread power outage meant local disc jockey Robert “Bobby C” Campbell couldn’t work his equipment across the street at Mike’s Place on East River Street. The couple said people tried to find a generator, but no one could locate one in the chaos.

The newlyweds said Bobby C has been very accommodating, offering to reschedule a reception for August. But they don’t know where it will be held, as Mike’s Place is closed on Sundays, when they would like to hold the reception.

Herzig, who explained she is awaiting her marriage certificate so she can change her surname, said the fire affected every aspect of her wedding.

“We were taking pictures out here and then my mom was starting to cough. She has COPD,” she said. “I didn’t want something to happen to her.”

The couple served food to guests and the public, not wanting it to go to waste.

“Half of our wedding cake’s still in the refrigerator because not enough people showed up to eat it,” Orrell said.

He and his wife said they are angry and frustrated that the arsonists ruined their special day, but mentioned the fire could have killed someone. No firefighters were injured but two civilians suffered minor burns. They did not need to be hospitalized. The suspects’ names are not being released due to their ages.

“We’ll never forget that day,” Orrell said.

Reach Domenic Poli at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.