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Winter Blanket Burns Pittsfield Apartment

Andy McKeever

 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — An old electrical blanket ignited early Tuesday morning and gutted an apartment at 100 Springside Ave. 
 
According to Deputy Fire Chief Keith Phillips, Linda Vandyke woke up when her blanket suddenly caught on fire. She took it outside but returned to find the underside of her bed still burning.
 
Firefighters were called at about 6:30 a.m., Phillips said.
 
Van Dyke escaped without injuries but one firefighter cut his hand, Phillips said.
 
The Fire Department closed off a section of Springside Ave. until about 10:30 a.m. Firefighters had trouble fighting the blaze because a nearby hydrant was buried in snow. Phillips said that residents can be a big help to the department by shoveling the hydrants out. 
 
Phillips said the blanket was 8-years-old and the wires were damaged because of usage and washing. 
 
The apartment is one of six in the building but none of the others were damaged, he said. The owner is already boarding the apartment up.
 
According to state land records, the building is owned by Matthew Pantofel.
 
Vandyke and her husband Edward Vandyke are reportedly staying with relatives and the tenants of the above apartment were removed because of a strong odor of smoke, Phillips said. Edward Vandyke was not home when it began.
 

 

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Fire Destroys Cranwell Carriage House

Nichole Dupont


 Updated on Jan. 4, 2011:  Update: Investigators are looking several space heaters set in the void between the first and second floors of the Carriage Barn as the possible source of the blaze that destroyed the historic structure days before Christmas.

"The fire investigation is continuing, but we are focusing on three space heaters as the most probable cause," said State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan in a press release.

The joint investigation with Lenox Fire Chief Daniel Clifford found the three oil-filled heaters were being used to keep pipes from freezing; at least two were connected to extension cords. According to the release, "Investigators believe either one of the space heaters or one of the extension cords connected to a heater, may have overheated and started the fire."

The entire press release can be found here in pdf format.


Update on Dec. 23, 2010, 4:25 p.m.: Follow-up calls for more information on the blaze haven't been returned by Cranwell Resort but a statement was sent stating the resort planned on rebuilding the structure. The statement follows:

A fire in the historic Carriage House at Cranwell Resort has completely destroyed the 18-guestroom building. There were no guests or employees in the building at the time. The fire broke out at approximately 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, December 22. Fire departments from 20 surrounding towns were called in help battle the blaze and they worked through the night trying to save the building. The circa 1890s building was connected to the Spa by a glass-enclosed walkway, but because it was completely isolated, no other building or operation was affected.

The Eagle posted this photo on YFrog.

The cause of the fire is under investigation according to Lew Kiesler, President and General Manager of Cranwell. He stated, "We are so grateful that no one was injured during this terrible event. We lost a gracious and historic building yesterday, but we are already making plans to rebuild."

The resort remains open for business in all areas with restaurants, the spa and facilities open to the public and house guests. Cranwell is currently in process of contacting hotel guests and making alternate arrangements for stays as necessary.

Original Post: 12-22-2010 04:37PM

LENOX, Mass. — A major structure fire destroyed the 120-year-old Carriage House on Wednesday afternoon at Cranwell Resort & Spa.

The smoke was discovered by a house inspector for the luxury resort at about 2 p.m., said General Manager Lewis M. Kiesler. "Fortunately, at this point, all the guest rooms in the Carriage House were vacant."

Kiesler was standing in the freezing temperatures calling guests to tell them their vacation plans were canceled as he watched a horde of firefighers from the surrounding towns battle the blaze. He said it was fortunate the Carriage House was at a distance from the other buildings on the sprawling estate.

The flames and smoke could be seen from the other side of Route 7 and billowed over the resort complex. The reporter at the scene said the wood-frame building looked like a tinderbox more than 45 minutes after the fire was reported.

The historic Carriage House was featured on the Cranwell website.

Lenox firefighters called in mutual aid from neighboring towns, including Lee, Great Barrington, Stockbridge, Hinsdale, Richmond and Monterey. A second call for help brought in five more departments, including Adams and Clarksburg from North County, and set the high school as a staging area for more tankers.

The Carriage House was built the same year as the mansion, which now hosts dinner parties and banquets. It was linked to the spa with a glass-enclosed walkway and boasted 18 luxury rooms on two floors. The resort also has rooms in the mansion, a set of townhouses, three cottages and the Olmsted Mansion.

Kiesler said the resort was fully booked through New Year's Eve.

Great Barrington Deputy Fire Chief Edward G. McCormick, acting as public relations officer, gave an update shortly before 5 p.m.  He said the fire apparently began in the building's attic but fire officials would not speculate as to how it might have started.

It was reported to Lenox dispatch at about 2:30; the building was fully involved when firefighters arrived at the scene.

McCormick said 20 Berkshire County fire departments and one Connecticut department sent equipment and manpower to help fight the blaze.

The building's historic architecture made it difficult contain the fire; the partial collapse of one side of the building forced firefighters out of the interior.

No has been injured but the weather conditions were raising concerns over firefighters' safety, said McCormick, because of the amount of water icing up around the scene. 

"I think we'll be here until tomorrow morning," he said, as smoked continued to billow behind him.

Cranwell Resort posted this statement on its website shortly before 6:30 pm.

Today, Cranwell suffered an unfortunate fire to the historic Carriage House. Thankfully, no one was injured but the building is a complete loss. The building is isolated so it has not affected any other property at Cranwell. Please rest assured that the entire resort is open for business and you can continue your plans to visit. For further information about your room reservation, spa appointment or dinner reservation, please call 800-272-6935.

Staff writer Andy McKeever contributed to this report.

Firefighters can be seen battling the blaze from above; right, the 18-room building collapses.

 

 


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Two-Alarm Blaze Guts North Adams Home

Andy McKeever

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A two-alarm blaze gutted a two-story State Road home on Monday afternoon leaving four people homeless.

A Facebook page has been set up to coordinate help and raise funds for the two couples, who lost everything in the blaze.

According to Fire Director Steve Meranti, firefighters were called to the apartment building at the corner of Protection Avenue and State Street around noon after an off-duty police officer reported heavy smoke and shooting flames.

All off-duty firefighters were called to the scene, where heavy winds spread the fire throughout nooks and crannies on the topmost floors, he said. The fire built up in the ceiling and firefighters needed to call for backup.

Firefighters had to break through the roof of State Road home to battle a blaze that gutted the structure.

"The wind contributed considerably," Meranti said. "It was a tough one. The guys took a wicked beating."

Additional difficulty came because the department was restricted by power lines on Protection Avenue and National Grid had to disconnect power.

Firefighters removed the building's roof to get at the blaze in the attic. The home was vacant when the fire was reported and no one was injured.

"It's a total loss on the second and third [attic] floors," Meranti said. "Everybody has been accounted for."

There are two apartments housing two people in each, according to Meranti. The fire appeared to have begun in a second-floor bedroom, he said.

"I don't remember being at a fire that big since I was a kid," Mayor Richard Alcombright said, who was at the scene.

The fire closed traffic on Route 2 between Protection Avenue and Roberts Drive for more than two hours. Motorists were detoured over Massachusetts Avenue.

Adams Fire Department also assisted on the scene and Clarksburg Fire Department was on standby in the city's station. The cause of the fire is not yet known and investigation will continue on Tuesday when the fire marshall arrives to the scene.

"It does not appear to be suspicious but we haven't ruled anything out yet," Meranti said.

Firefighters remained on the scene Monday night to watch for hotspots.



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Abandoned Bag Prompts Bridge Closure

Tammy Daniels & Andy McKeever

State police bomb squad examine X-rays of the suspicious bag left under Veterans Memorial Bridge, which is shown in the background.

 

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A bag full of dirty clothes shut down one of the city's main arteries for more than two hours on Wednesday night.

The suspicious bag was reported abandoned under the Veterans Memorial Bridge just after 6 p.m.

An initial investigation led police to believe the bag could contain a bomb or explosives and they closed the roads around 7 p.m. The bomb squad was called about less than a half hour later.

"We had a suspicious package under the artery," said Public Safety Commissioner E. John Morocco, who described it as "an old dufflebag."  "We originally checked it with a thermal scanner and we found a hot spot."

That was enough to call in the state police bomb squad, he said. Two squad members arrived around 9 p.m.

Access to Marshall Street between Main and River streets and Veterans Memorial Bridge, carrying Route 2, was blocked and diverted over Main Street and River Street.

Shortly before 10 p.m. state police finished the investigation and found the bag was not harmful. They took X-rays using a portable machine to determine there were no explosives. Once that was completed, a trooper wearing a safety vest opened the bag and looked inside to confirm.

The team brought along the remote-control robot but did not deploy it.

A dufflebag of some type can be seen under the Veterans Memorial Bridge.

"The city should be so fortunate to have such a quick response by police, fire department and ambulance," Mayor Richard Alcombright said when the roads were being reopened. "I want to give a very big thank you to the state police for their help."

The four-lane memorial bridge continues Route 2 over Marshall Street, the Hoosic River and parking lots on both sides of Marshall.

What appeared to be a large, dark bag of some sort could be seen about midway between the concrete pillars supporting the deck on the edge of the east side of the parking lot near the sidewalk at about 9 p.m. The nearby Mohawk Tavern was dark and reportedly evacuated.

North Adams Police were being aided by a state police cruiser and Clarksburg police to prevent motorists from driving under or over the bridge.

Officer Jason Wood said the bag was "full of dirty clothes." An officer is still investigating but Wood wasn't sure it if there was anything in the bag to identify the owner. "It was in an odd spot," he said, adding the bag is now "lost property."

The last time a suspicious package raised this level of caution was more than two years during a failed bank robbery attempt by Robert A. Bywaters. Bywaters claimed to have a bomb in a bag he left on the sidewalk in front of Hoosac Bank on Main Street.

The main drag was shut down for nearly 12 hours before the state police bomb squad removed the bag and disposed of the contents.

Updated and rewritten throughout to add and correct details; Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010, 10:58 p.m.

Update on Saturday, Dec.18: The bag turns out to have been stolen from a woman at the Thrifty Bundle laundromat on State Road. According to a report in the North Adams Transcript, someone grabbed her purse and, when she gave chase, someone else stole her bag.

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MCLA Investigates Armed Robbery

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — An armed robbery at one of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' Townhouse dormitories on Tuesday is under investigation.

The district attorney's office released a brief statement late Wednesday saying no one was hurt during the 6:30 p.m. robbery the day before. MCLA campus police and state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office are requesting that anyone who was in the area at the time or who may have information about the incident contact the college's office of public safety at 413-662-5284.

Fred Lantz, spokesman for the district attorney's office, and Bernadette Lupo, MCLA's spokeswoman, both said they could not provide any additional information because the investigation was ongoing.

 

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