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Cooking Fire Causes Smoke, Water Damage at North Adams Housing Authority

By Jack Guerino
iBerkshires Staff
North Adams Ambulance Service responded to a small fire at Ashland Park Apartments on Friday afternoon.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters evacuated some residents from the high rise on Friday afternoon after a small cooking fire broke out on the 7th floor.

Fire Director Stephen Meranti said the fire was quickly put out by the sprinkler system.

"Right now we are evacuating because of smoke and water. We do have water all the way from the seventh floor all the way down," Meranti said. "We are checking apartments as we go down through, but the sprinkler system did its job."

Meranti said no one was injured.

The Fire Department was alerted to the situation at about 12:30 p.m., when an alarm was activated in a unit at the Ashland Park Apartments. Scanner reports indicated water was "pouring down the hallways" in the Housing Authority building.

Residents clustered in the community room on the ground floor until being allowed back into their homes.

Executive Director Jennifer Hohn said a few units below the seventh-floor apartment were affected.

"A significant amount of water from the sprinklers has entered the units directly below on all floors," she said. "As a result of water seeping into electrical panels, power to these affected units has been shut off."

Hohn said the Holiday Inn was gracious to offer accommodations and a meal for those residents affected by the fire and its containment.

"There is a chance the power will not be restored by the evening so I have reserved a block of rooms at the Holiday Inn for anybody needing accommodations," she said. "I will update the board when a further assessment of the damage is concluded.

"The important thing is nobody was injured."

Police and North Adams Ambulance Service also responded; Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Police assisted with traffic control as Ashland Street was restricted to one lane.

The incident is under investigation. 

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North Adams Police Search For Driver Who Hit Pedestrian

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Police are seeking the driver of a dark Pontiac Sunfire who hit a North Adams man on Wednesday night and drove off.

James Dean was struck while crossing State Street to his home at about 7:45 p.m. He was reportedly carrying white laundry bags and attempted get out of the way as the car sped down on him. He was struck and left in the street; a neighbor saw him and was able to get to him before another car came through.

Dean was taken to Berkshire Medical Center by North Adams Ambulance Service with serious injuries.

The incident occurred near 191 State St. Police received several calls that a man had been hit by a vehicle and knocked down in the street.

Initially, police were looking for a black pickup truck, but the victim identified the vehicle as a Sunfire.

Adams Police Department was asked to be on the lookout for a black Pontiac Sunfire with front passenger-side damage.

As of Thursday afternoon, the motorist had not been found and the incident is still under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact North Adams Police at 413-448-9700.

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Superior Court Briefs: Oct. 13 - Oct. 14

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Tuesday, Oct. 13.
Jonathan Kirchner, 33, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to two counts of breaking and entering in the daytime, two counts of larceny from a building, two counts of receiving stolen property, and a single count of attempt to commit a crime.
He was ordered to serve two to three years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction. The incidents occurred in Pittsfield and Lanesborough between April 28, 2014 and August 19, 2015.
Kayla Ferrell-Gibbs, 22, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to two counts of distribution of cocaine, and single counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws and possession of a counterfeit substance with intent to distribute.
All charges were continued for two years. The charges stem from drug sales in Pittsfield between September 22, 2014 and September 30, 2014.
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, Oct. 14.
Joshua Capitanio, 33, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to single counts of possession of an infernal machine, reckless endangerment of a child, and possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card.
The charges are in connection with an incident in Pittsfield on March 3, 2015. He was released on personal recognizance pending sentencing. 
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Mount Greylock Bus Hit on Field Trip; No Injuries, Damage

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A school bus carrying Mount Greylock Regional School students was involved in an accident in New York State on Tuesday.

WNYT Channel 13 reported that the bus carrying 43 eighth-graders to the battlefield at Saratoga National Historical Park collided with a truck on Stover Road in Valley Falls, N.Y.

According to student newspaper The Greylock Echo, it was one of two buses being used to transport the school's eighth grade on a field trip.

The bus was "swiped by a truck while crossing an intersection" shortly before 11 a.m., the Echo reported, and that damage was minimal.

The students and staff were cleared by emergency responders while the first bus transported its passenger to the battlefield, about 10 or 20 minutes away. It then returned to pick up the others.

Dufour Bus Co., which contracts with Mount Greylock, sent a new bus for the return trip.

"Some students were jostled, and certainly some kids had heightened levels of anxiety, but no one was hurt," Mount Greylock Principal Mary MacDonald said on Tuesday evening.
MacDonald said one of the chaperones on the trip, a nurse, checked out the students and found that they were OK before EMTs arrived at the scene.
Word of the fender-bender first reached Williamstown when students on the trip began sending texts to their parents. School Vice Principal Jacob Schutz sent an email to all of the families involved shortly thereafter.
They only downside of the incident was that half the students on the trip had their visit to the battleground cut short. "But they still had the experience," MacDonald said.
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North Adams Blaze Leaves Families Without Homes, Pets

Staff Reports
iBerkshires Staff
Firefighters battled

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — At least four people were left homeless Saturday night after a a 2-alarm fire destroyed a four-unit residence on Furnace Street.

On officer on patrol downtown first noticed the smoke billowing above 222-224 Furnace St.,  said Fire Director Stephen Meranti on Sunday. Flames were already coming through the roof when the first firefighters arrived on scene.

"It had a good jump on us," he said. "It's a good thing the building had smoke alarms.  ... They were able to evacuate the building before it got into the apartments."

Kara Delisle was awakened by the alarms in her second-floor apartment in the back of the building. According to posts by a relative on Facebook, "she opened the door and was met by flames that instantly blew into her kitchen as broken glass flew past her face."  

Delisle quickly woke her daughter, Miaah Lynn Southard, and was able to get out of the building. Firefighters also checked the other three units, said Meranti, and were told that one was unoccupied and the two occupants of the other apartments were out — only to come to find their homes ablaze.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Delisle, who lost everything in the fire.

While no one was injured at the scene, Delisle's two cats, Ming and Menelaus, are unaccounted for. A rabbit is also believed to have perished and a dog that was rescued later succumbed to its injuries.

The building was a total loss and was knocked down Sunday as a precautionary measure.

"We couldn't go into the building because it was structurally unsafe," said Meranti. "That made it more difficult."

The structure was located on narrow Furnace Street, which drops off in the back to homes below on Francis, making it harder to access the fire in the rear. Meranti said larger diameter hoses were used to contain the blaze over several hours and prevent it from spreading to nearby homes, but parts of the building were still burning when it was knocked down.

The state fire marshal's office is investigating the cause. Meranti said it appears to have begun on the exterior in the back and moved quickly up into a porch roof and into the attic.

An "all-call" was made for off-duty firefighters to respond; Clarksburg Fire Department also responded and helped cover the city. North Adams Ambulance Service set up its rehab tent to provide some respite from the chilly temperatures and sleet. The department's chaplain, the Rev. David Anderson from First Baptist, also was there and representatives from the Red Cross offered aide to the tenants.

Owner David Andreatta, who lives nearby, was also at the scene. The road was closed to through traffic between Reservoir Road and Walnut until late afternoon on Sunday.

Editor's Note: If anyone knows of fundraising efforts for the other occupants of the building, send to info@iberkshires.com and they will be added to the article.

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