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Pittsfield Firefighters Busy With Third Fire in 24 Hours

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
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Firefighters responded to a fire at 20 Larch St.
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Fire spread to the basement of 20 Larch.
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On Monday, firefighters attack a blaze at 15 Miller that spread to the attic.
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The fire on Miller Street was contained fairly quickly.

 
Firefighters tackled two fires on Tuesday: an apartment fire on Columbus Avenue (above) and a house fire at 20 Larch St.

Updated at 11:58 a.m. with third fire report.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — City firefighters are being kept on their toes this week. The department's dealt with three structures fires in 24 hours.

"We certainly have days we have structure fires, but to get three in a 24-hour period is kind of unusual for us," Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said right after his crews snuffed out an apartment fire on Tuesday morning. "The guys held up very well, they're not ready to call it quits yet."

The chief did not think there was a pattern to the fires.

"It all seems to be accidental," he said, with "nothing incendiary."

On Monday at about 11:30 a.m. firefighters snuffed out a structure fire at 15 Miller St., which is off Lakeway Drive.

On Tuesday, at about 8:30, firefighters put out a blaze on the other side of the city, at 20 Larch St.; two hours later, they were at 297 Columbus Ave. dealing with the grease fire

"It came in as a kitchen fire, heavy smoke on arrival," Czerwinski said. "We had a kitchen burning on the third floor, Apt. 9 in a 11-unit building." 

The fire was knocked down fairly quickly but the family - two adults and four children - were displaced. The Red Cross was expected at the scene shortly to help them. No one was injured and no other apartments were affected.

"We're pretty confident [it was a cooking fire]," he said. "The occupants told us what happened."

It was a little less clear how the fire at 20 Larch St. began.

"Fire crews arrived at 20 Larch St. a little before 9 o'clock this morning. They found heavy fire coming out of the back kitchen area. They made an aggressive attack to the indoors and knocked that fire down," Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said.

"There was some extension into the living area and some down into the basement."

By 9 a.m., crews had already put out the blaze, which Czerwinski said appears to have started in the kitchen. He said nobody was home at the time and the neighbors called in the blaze when they saw flames and smoke coming through the rear windows.

"This was cooking for a little while before it was discovered," Czerwinski said.

That structure fire nearly caused the closure of Merrill Road. Fire officials said they considered closing Merrill Road but ultimately determined they didn't need access to the fire hydrant.

"They called extra resources in," Czerwinski said, of what came close to being a two-alarm fire. "There are probably 14, 15 firefighters here."

There is smoke and heat damage throughout the home, he said, but the fire itself was mostly contained in the rear of the building. According to land records, the home is owned by Alliance Properties LLC. 

Later, Deputy Andrew Stephenson reported that two adults and three children were displaced. The Red Cross was being called to assist them with finding lodging. 


Czerwinski said fire inspectors will hopefully determine the cause by the end of the day.

On Monday, a woman was displaced from her Miller Street home after a first-floor couch caught on fire. Luckily, one of the city's deputy chiefs live across the street and when his wife noticed the smoke, she quickly called 911.

"She knew what to call in and what to say so they knew there was fire," Czerwinski said.

Again, in short order firefighters contained the blaze that had spread from the first floor up to the attic in the rear of the building.

"They think that was caused by careless smoking. The fire appeared to have originated from a couch on the first floor," Czerwinski said.

The homeowner, Margaret Anne Miller, was not home at the time and she is currently displaced from the home. Czerwinski said that fire is still under investigation.

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