Barn Destroyed in Early Morning Fire in Adams
Cows walk in front of the fire on their way to the barn.
ADAMS, Mass. — An early morning fire at Ziemba's farm on Walling Road destroyed a hay-filled barn complex.
Firefighters from nearly a dozen fire departments spent hours containing the blaze and preventing it from spreading to adjacent buildings and the farmhouse at Broadlawn Farm.
"The back barn was fully involved when we got here and the owners were trying to get the cows out," said Fire Chief John Pansecchi during a pause around 5:30 a.m., nearly three hours after the fire was first reported. "By the time we got here [the barns] were gone."
Pansecchi believed all or most of the dairy cattle were saved but the barn was also filled with hay that has continued to smolder and burn. He expected it would take hours to break up the bales and said they were looking for an excavator to tear the ruins apart. The cause is suspected to be electrical but he said it would be some time before it could be investigated.
In addition to the Adams Fire Department and Forest Wardens, tankers and equipment also came from Cheshire, Clarksburg, Dalton, Florida, Lanesborough, Windsor and Savoy, and Stamford, Vt. The Adams Ambulance Service and Northern Berkshire EMS were also on the scene. Trucks and vehicles lined narrow Walling Road by the farm. Readsboro, Vt., sent a tanker to standby in Stamford — the only one immediately available to cover North County.
The fire chief wasn't sure if the barn was two or three segments. It was a long structure behind the milking barn with grain storage in another area at one end.
"They've got a grain storage at the other end we're trying to protect," he said. "The immediate concern was the milking house and the grain and this barn that hasn't burned."
Tankers were filling up at water source at the bottom of Walling and East Mountain roads and a hydrant on East Road. Two portable tanks, or pools, were set up in the farm's driveway and tankers backed up to fill them and then left to replenish. That had been going on for hours and was expected to continue for some time.
"We've got probably 2,000 gallons in our trucks and it doesn't take long to go through that," Pansecchi said. Crews were looking for a third water source because using the hydrant had drained the water tank it was connected to by nearly half. "It's tough because you're frustrated for water to get here."
As firefighters continued to douse the blaze, the cows made their way to the milking barn, silhouetted against the flames. The farm has about 300 cows and has been in the family for almost a century.
"We're going to be here for a while. We have to break up all the bales of hay ... now it's going to be labor-intensive," Pansecchi said. "These guys did a great job, everybody worked well here."
Charge of Leaving the Scene Dropped in Fatal Adams Incident
ADAMS, Mass. — A charge of leaving the scene of fatal accident lodged against a local businessman has been dropped.
Instead, David I. Sookey Jr. had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf on Monday in Berkshire Superior Court in Pittsfield for a single count of misleading, impeding and obstructing a police investigation.
Sookey, 61, allegedly ran over 85-year-old Theresa Marby on Feb. 16 when he exited his parking spot next to the Oasis Liquor Store on Dean Street. He told police at the time that he did not see Marby and thought he'd hit a pothole before leaving the area. Police allege that he provided misleading information related to his knowledge about the events of that day.
The single count of leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, death resulting, which he was arraigned on in February, will be dismissed in Northern Berkshire District Court in the near future, according to the district attorney's office.
Sookey appeared before Judge Mark Mason on Monday and was released on $10,000 bail.
Adams Firefighters Battle Apartment Building Blaze
ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters from Adams and Cheshire were able to contain a major structure fire on the thickly settled Maple Street early Thursday morning.
No one was injured in the fire but two dogs were thought to be still inside.
Fire Chief John Pansecchi said he was the first on the scene at 60 Maple St. The blaze was first reported a little after midnight.
"We had heavy fire on the second floor, heavy smoke showing," he said. "There was heavy heat right from the get-go."
Firefighters took up a defensive position and called in Cheshire Fire Department for mutual aid. Clarksburg Fire Department also sent a truck to cover the Adams station.
Pansecchi said the fire was believed to have ignited in a kitchen on the second then worked its way into the attic and through the roof.
The rear upper porch of the double-decker was engulfed in flames by 12:30 a.m. and about an hour later, the roof had burned through. One of the two brick chimneys collapsed, slightly damaging a nearby house. As the blaze was brought under control, thick smoke filled the air.
Firefighters attacked with hoses on the rear and side of the building and used the ladder truck to reach the upper floors. Pansecchi said one hydrant ran out of water and a second one had to be opened. There were some issues in getting the trucks under some low hanging electrical wires that crossed the street to 60 Maple an adjacent house but firefighters were able to maneuver around them.
It was not clear how many people were living in the building, which may have four apartments. Pansecchi said the first floor was occupied and those tenants were able to get out. There was no one in the upper floors at the time of the fire.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. Pansecchi said the state fire marshal was called and would be at the scene later Thursday morning.
The building dates to 1900 and is listed as being owned by MMD Properties LLC. It was most recently sold in 2013.
Adams Ambulance and North Adams Ambulance services set up a rehab tent with water and coffee for the tired firefighters. Pansecchi called them a godsend and said two firefighters were checked out by the emergency medical technicians as a precaution.
"The guys did a great job," the fire chief said. "They worked their butts off."
Adams Businessman Arraigned in Pedestrian Death
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — David I. Sookey Jr., 61, of Adams, had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf on Wednesday morning in Northern Berkshire District Court.
Sookey was arraigned on single counts of leaving the scene of a fatal motor vehicle accident and of misleading, impeding and obstructing a police investigation.
He is accused of hitting 85-year-old Theresa Marby with his vehicle on Dean Street on Friday morning and leaving the scene. Marby was found in the road and pronounced dead at Berkshire Medical Center in North Adams.
According to the report filed by Adams Police Officer Gregory Charon, Sookey was backing out of his parking spot at the Oasis Liquor Store onto Dean Street at about 9:25 a.m. when his 2016 Jeep Wrangler struck Marby and knocked her down.
Police state that instead of stopping, Sookey shifted into drive, drove over her and continued southwest on Dean Street. He did not report the accident and, according to police, took "a series of systematic steps" to conceal the crime and mislead investagators.
Investigators say they confirmed this series of events after viewing security footage from a camera at Greylock Apartments that was pointed toward the scene of the incident. A gray Jeep Wrangler can be seen backing out of its parking spot as Marby, walking in the street behind it, begins to raise her hands.
Sookey told officers that he always parks on Dean Street next to the store's dumpster and that no one had used his vehicle that day. Sookey is a co-owner of Oasis, which is located at the corner of Spring and Dean streets. Marby resided on Spring Street.
Police found Marby, 85, lying in a pool of blood in the northbound lane of Dean Street. Witnesses at the scene told police they had found Marby in the road and called 911 but did not see a vehicle or the incident. Richard Sookey, David Sookey's brother and co-owner of the liquor store, told police he was inside the store and did not see anything, pointing them toward a customer who had walked out of the store and seen Marby in the road. The store does not have security cameras outside, he told police.
Marby was found to have significant head and chest trauma that doctors said was inconsistent with a fall, according to the police report.
Sookey was interviewed on Friday afternoon and told police he had left the store at 9:15 a.m. to go to Pittsfield to get a haircut and believed he may have hit a pothole on leaving. He said in his interview that he never saw Marby and had looked in his rearview mirror after believing he'd hit the pothole. He told police that his brother had texted him about the incident and he wondered if he had caused it. He indicated to police that he may have been in shock or denial, according to the report.
According to the report, he deleted all of his text messages and then washed his Jeep off at the local carwash on Friday, which police described as "a direct attempt" to destroy trace evidence after he knew he could have caused the fatality.
"Although investigators believe that Sookey's explanation of 'hitting a pothole' is implausible, Sookey admitted that at some point, approximately 1-2 hours after learning what happened, that he realized he did cause the accident and did not come forward to speak with investigators who were outside of his business all day," according to the report.
Marby was a longtime employee at McDonald's in Adams and an officer and longtime member of Burnette-Bednarz Post 1995, Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary.
Sookey was released on $25,000 bail on condition he not operate a motor vehicle while the case is being processed. He is scheduled for a pre-trail hearing on March 19.
Theresa Marby at a recent Memorial Day ceremony.
Original posting at 4:50 p.m., Feb. 20, 2018: ADAMS, Mass. — A longtime Adams resident has been arrested in Friday's hit-and-run death of 85-year-old Theresa Marby.
Police arrested David I. Sookey Jr., 61, of East Road on Tuesday afternoon. He is charged with single counts of leaving the scene of a fatal motor vehicle accident and of misleading, impeding and obstructing a police investigation. Sookey was released on personal recognizance and will be arraigned on those charges in Northern Berkshire District Court on Wednesday morning.
Marby was discovered laying in the middle of Dean Street mid-morning on Friday and taken to Berkshire Medical Center in North Adams, where she was pronounced dead. Preliminary results of an autopsy conducted Sunday on Marby indicated she died from blunt force trauma. Dr. Robert Welton, an associate medical examiner for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, conducted the autopsy in Holyoke.
Sookey is a well-known local businessman and an owner of the Oasis Liquor Store. Marby, who lived on Spring Street not far from where she was found, was also well known in the community and had been an officer in the local VFW Auxiliary.
The investigation is being conducted by members of the Adams Police Department, State Police Detectives assigned to the District Attorney's Office and the State Police Crime Scene Services Section.
Adams Pedestrian Killed in Hit-and-Run
ADAMS, Mass. — A senior citizen was apparently struck and killed by a motor vehicle Friday morning on Dean Street.
Police say 85-year-old Theresa Marby of 43 Spring St. was found lying in the middle of the road at about 9:30 a.m. and was taken to Berkshire Medical Center in North Adams, where she was pronounced dead.
Investigators believe that Marby was the victim of a hit-and-run. An autopsy to determine the cause of death will be performed Sunday at office of the medical examiner in Holyoke.
Marby was a longtime member of the VFW Auxiliary in Adams and frequently attended Memorial Day services.
Anyone who may have information related to this incident is asked to call the Adams Police Department at 413-743-1212 or the state police detectives at 413-499-1112.
The investigation is being conducted by members of the Adams Police Department, state police detectives assigned to the Berkshire district attorney's office and the state police Crime Scene Services Section.
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