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Four Residents Displaced Following Pittsfield Fire

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
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The slate roof kept heat and fire inside the apartment. Firefighters had to punch a hole through the roof for ventilation. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Four people are displaced after a fire tore through the rear of their South Church Street home.
 
Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said firefighters responded at 12:24 Saturday afternoon to the call at 7 South Church St. One of the occupants, who was the only one home at the time, of the two-family home heard the smoke alarm and then found a fire on the rear porch. He escaped the building through the front stairway. 
 
"On arrival, there was heavy fire on the second floor rear. Guys made an interior attack, knocked down a lot of the fire on the inside of the second floor," Czerwinski said.
 
The cause of the fire had not yet been determined at the scene but later fire investigators found cause to be the careless disposal of smoking materials. The fire had started on the porch and it spread into the apartment and into the attic. The fire did not fall to the first floor.
 
"We think the wind may have had a play in the spread of the fire. Because of a strong wind coming out of the west, it kind of blew it into that apartment. The other problem we had is that it is an old house, probably over 100 years old, and it has a slate roof on it. The slate roof helped keep a lot of the heat and flame in there," Czerwinski said.
 
Firefighters had to knock the slate roof off in order to ventilate the building. The fire was snuffed out fairly quickly and firefighters were packing up to leave shortly before 2 p.m. Nobody was injured in the blaze.
 
The response consisted of three engines, a ladder truck, and Car-2.
 
The fire left the building uninhabitable for now and the damage was estimated at $10,000 to $20,000. Czerwinski said all of the occupants have somewhere else to go for the evening.
     

Man Dies Following Pittsfield Shooting

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Updated: The district attorney's office said 30-year-old David Green Jr. died from a gunshot wound to the neck on Wednesday. The case is now being investigated as a homicide. 
 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A man was found with a potentially life-threatening gunshot wound just before 9 a.m. on Saturday. 
 
Police were alerted to the shooting by a ShotSpotter activation near the intersection of Spring Street and Willow Street. There they encountered the 30-year-old man, who has not been identified.
 
Officers performed life-saving measures on the man, and he was later transported to Berkshire Medical Center for treatment.
 
Anyone who may have witnessed, or who may have information about this incident, is asked to contact the Detective Bureau at 413-448-9705. Information can be provided anonymously via the Detective Bureau, the Drug Tips hotline at 413-448-9708, or by texting PITTIP and your message to TIP411 (847411).
 
The investigation is being conducted by members of the Pittsfield Police Department with the assistance of the Berkshire County sheriff's department and Massachusetts State Police.
     

Pittsfield Man Being Charged for Illegal Firearms, Ammunition Cache

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police have arrested a local man with illegally possessing firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
 
Mathew Sylvia, 32, of Linden Street was found in possession of eight firearms (rifles, shotguns and handguns) as well as a flare gun that was modified to fire shotgun rounds, say police. Sylvia also possessed more than 13,000 rounds of ammunition in both handgun, shotgun and rifle calibers (.22, .25, .357, .38, 9mm, .45, 7.62 x39, .410, 20ga and 12 ga).
 
According to police, Sylvia does not possess a valid License to Carry (LTC) or Firearms Identification Card (FID).
 
A tip that Sylvia was going to receive a large shipment of ammunition came on Oct. 19, while detectives were investigating the homicide of William Catalano, who was stabbed outside his Robbins Avenue home on Oct. 15.
 
Detectives applied for and received several search warrants that authorized both the seizure of more than 60 pounds of ammunition that was at a local shipping company, as well as a search of Sylvia's residence. Multiple firearms and more ammunition were seized by investigators at the residence.
 
Additionally, Sylvia possessed multiple high capacity feeding devices (magazines) for multiple firearms.
 
He will be charged with multiple counts of possession of firearms and ammunition without an FID, improper storage of firearms, and possession of large capacity feeding devices.
 
Sylvia was taken into custody by Central District Court Probation personnel based upon the investigation, which constituted a violation of his existing probation conditions.
 
The Pittsfield Detective Bureau received assistance in the case from the state police and the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.
     

No Injuries Reported After Police Fire Weapons During Search

Staff Reports
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Noble Avenue was closed for most of the day on Friday.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police officers shot at a man while executing a search warrant on West Housatonic Street on Friday morning but there were no injuries.
 
According to the district attorney's office, while the Berkshire Law Enforcement Task Force executed a search warrant relating to drug activity, 23-year-old Marcel Teixeira-Ingram Jr. was seen pointing a handgun at officers. Two officers discharged weapons in response but did not hit the man.
 
He was then taken into custody.
 
Teixeira-Ingram Jr. is being charged with armed assault with intent to murder, illegal possession of a firearm, armed career felon in possession of a firearm, and assault with a dangerous weapon. Teixeira-Ingram will be arraigned Monday morning in Central Berkshire District Court and additional charges may be brought.
 
Police executed the warrant at 9:50 a.m. at the multi-unit apartment building at the corner of Noble Avenue and West Housatonic Street. Noble Avenue was shut down for most of the day as the investigation into the incident unfolded. 
 
The investigation is being conducted by state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office, the Massachusetts State Police Crime Scene Services and Ballistics Sections, members of the Pittsfield and Dalton police departments and the Berkshire County sheriff's department.
     

Pittsfield Couple Dies In Early Morning Fire

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
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The home caught fire shortly before 4 a.m.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — An elderly couple died in an early morning fire on Bryan Street Thursday.
 
Shortly before 4 a.m., an electrical cord short-circuited and set the home at 71 Bryan St. on fire. The three occupants — the couple and their daughter — woke up to heavy smoke on the first floor. The daughter, described as being in her early 30s, escaped the blaze and ran to a neighbors house to call for help. 
 
"She woke up to smoke. She came down the stairs, saw her father, her father told her to get out of the house. She launched herself out of a window, just a short window off of the back deck, she landed on the deck. Our guys got in, they were talking to him, and when they pulled him out he was still breathing," Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said.
 
Firefighters arrived at about 3:55 a.m. and immediately launched an interior search for the couple. The man was pulled out of the building and transported to Berkshire Medical Center, where he later died because of injuries suffered during the fire. Firefighters went back in and got the woman, but she had already died.
 
"We knew we were going into a bad situation, to begin with," Czerwinski said, adding that dispatch had alerted the crews to the entrapment immediately. "On arrival, we had heavy fire showing. The deputy was notified that two people were still inside the residence. That was our first plan of action, to get those people out of there."
 
"Entry crews made their way into the building with thermal imaging cameras looking for the two victims. They located the male victim and brought him out of the building. He was transported to Berkshire Medical Center, where he later succumbed to his injuries. They went back in and found the female victim, brought her out, and unfortunately she was passed away."
 
There are also a number of pets still unaccounted for. Czerwinski said pathways to the exits were clear but the couple, in their 70s, did have handicapped plates and there was a walker found at the scene — though he isn't sure if the walker was for the man or the woman — which could have hindered an escape.
 
The younger woman was treated and released from Berkshire Medical Center and one firefighter strained his back while pulling the victims from the structure. 
 
"First responders, we take this to heart. We take it personally that we can't get in there and get these people out," Czerwinski said.
 
A critical incident stress debriefing team is en route to help the firefighters in the wake of the tragedy. The firefighters had delayed water to the structure in order to perform the rescues.
 
Czerwinski said his department, the state fire marshal and police are all confident that the cause of the fire was the electrical cord. He said it was powering an air conditioner and was plugged into a power strip, which in turn was plugged into an old outlet. 
 
"We believe the cause of the fire to be an electric cord on the first floor, which short-circuited and caught the building on fire. We are unsure if there were working smoke detectors inside the building. We do know there was one working in the basement but we did not hear any on the upper floors," Czerwinski said. 
 
"It was an accumulation of challenges we had — no working smoke detectors, extension cords, electrical fires — and we, unfortunately, lost a couple of lives."
 
The building was "totally destroyed" and the chief expects that it would eventually be razed.
 
Czerwinski stressed the importance of fire prevention, reminding residents to replace fire detectors and avoid potential hazards.
 
"This may not have been averted but it was certainly an opportunity for this challenge not to present itself," Czerwinski said.
 
The names of the victims are not currently being released. According to land records, the home is owned by Raymond and Beverly Kinsella.
 
The last fatal fire in the city was in December 2016, when the same fire crew pulled 72-year-old Herdy Iroth from an apartment above Tahiti Takeout. Iroth later died because of injuries suffered during the blaze.

 

     
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