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Pittsfield Firefighters Quickly Knock Out North Street Fire

Staff Reports

The multi-family building is at the corner of North and Edgewood.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield firefighters were able to quickly knock down a fire that started in the back of 823 North St. on Wednesday morning.

Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said crews got the call at 9:11 that heavy smoke was showing at the back of the multi-family house on the corner of Edgewood Road, just north of Berkshire Medical Center. North Street near the hospital was closed temporarily as a result.

"Crews made an aggressive interior attack," said Czerwinski, who said firefighters found "a heavy amount of fire" in the back corner of the first floor but were quickly able to knock it down. 

Not knowing if anyone was inside the building, crews then searched but found no one and were told everyone was out. No firefighters were injured, and the cause is not yet known.

Czerwinski said that while the fire was knocked down quickly, efforts were hampered by what he characterized as a possible "hoarding" situation inside the back apartment.

"There seems to be a lot of stuff in there," he said from the scene after the fire was out.

The building inspector will make a determination on the condition of the building, Czerwinski said, but he said the rest of the house appeared to be intact, with just the one apartment having been destroyed.

"It looks like they got in there quick enough and got it knocked down," he said.

Most of the Pittsfield fire crews were on the scene, but there were enough available to leave some to cover the stations, he said.

"The guys did a great job," he said.

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Phone Scammers Targeting Berkshire County Residents

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Authorities are warning Berkshire County residents about a telephone scam targeting
elderly victims.
 
Berkshire District Attorney Paul J. Caccaviello says several people have fallen victim to the scam in which the caller poses as a relative or the attorney of a relative that has been involved in an accident where someone else has been injured. The caller claims the relative is in need of bail money, legal fees and medical expenses.
 
Those making the fake calls have been operating out of the state of Florida, but the phone numbers they are using have an area code of 202, which is located in Washington, D.C.
 
Caccaviello is asking anyone who may have received such a call or who may receive a call not to comply with any requests to send money and to contact their local police department.
 
The Berkshire Eagle reports that a North Adams women sent some $23,000 in cash to a person in Florida posing as a bail bondsman for a grandson who had purportedly been in a drunk-driving accident. 
 
Anyone requesting immediate cash payments should be considered suspicious; always confirm any situation with an independent source. If someone is calling claiming to be representing a family member or friend, contact that person first before sending any money. 
 
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Adams Police Investigating Possible Hit & Run

ADAMS, Mass. — Adams Police are investigating a Saturday morning accident that left two people hospitalized.

At approximately 1:30 Saturday morning, Officer Nick Dabrowski was responding to Meadow Street near East Hoosac Street to assist Officer Dakota Baker with a motor vehicle stop.

In the vicinity of 20 East Hoosac St., he came upon a man lying on the side of the street. Dabrowski began administering first aid and called for emergency medical assistance.

The individual was transported to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, where he is listed in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

Baker had a motor vehicle stopped near the Meadow Street intersection with East Hoosac Street. It is possible that vehicle may have been involved in the earlier accident.

The operator of that vehicle, a woman, was also transported to BMC and is listed in stable condition.

Anyone who may have witnessed the accident or been in the vicinity of East Hoosac Street early Saturday morning is asked to call the Adams Police Department at 413-743-1212.

Further details will not be released as the incident remains under investigation.

Members of the Adams Police Department are conducting the investigation and are being assisted by state police detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office and the Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section and Crime Scene Service Section of the state police.

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Barn Destroyed in Early Morning Fire in Adams

Staff Reports

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." 
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UPDATE: Suspected Pittsfield Arsonist Apprehended

Staff Reports

Update: Monday, September 24, 2018, at 5:05 p.m.

Phillip Jordan was arraigned in Vermont on Monday afternoon on a fugitive from justice charge and is being held on $25,000 bail. A not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf and his case was continued pending an examination to determine his competency to participate in court proceedings regarding his fugitive status.

Jordan is facing three counts of burning a dwelling house in connection with fires at homes on Appleton Avenue, Ridge Avenue and Fort Hill Avenue in Pittsfield on Saturday. The investigation is continuing and more charges may be pending.

Update: Sunday, September 23, 2018 at 5:07 p.m.

Pittsfield Police say Phillip Jordan was apprehended at the Canadian border by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents at the Highgate Port of Entry in Highgate Springs, Vt. without incident. The district attorney's office is assisting in the extradition back to Massachusetts.


Police are seeking any information on the whereabouts of Phillip Jordan. Jordan is considered armed and dangerous.

Original Post: Saturday, September 22, 2018.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Authorities say incendiary devices were used Saturday night to start fires in four separate locations in the city all at about the same time. 

"We had four fires simultaneously in the community," said Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski at the scene of the worst of the incidents on Appleton Avenue.
 
"We believe they are all related at this time. The Police Department is searching for a suspect right now that we believe is responsible for this."
 
Police released a Code Red notification shortly after 9 p.m. seeking information on the whereabouts of 58-year-old Phillip Jordan.
 
He is believed to have intentionally lit the fires. Jordan was operating a blue Subaru Legacy with license plate number 7LJA90.
 
Jordan is described as a white man with long salt and pepper hair, standing 5-feet 7-inches tall, and weighing 135 pounds.
 
He is considered armed and dangerous and police say he should not be approached.
 
Police are asking anyone with information about his whereabouts to contact the department.
 
A Phillip Jordan is also listed in the Registry of Deeds as the owner of 112 Appleton Ave., where the first of the fires was reported at 6:42 p.m. That fire was still going strong more than two hours later. A second fire was reported at Fort Hill Avenue, a third at Ridge Avenue and then a fourth on Brown Street. 
 
"This is the worst of them," the fire chief said as crews continued to fight the blaze in the two-story home on Appleton. "They're heavily involved in defensive operations ... it was in the basement and went through the entire building." 
 
No one was home at the Appleton residence but the occupants of the other three homes were able to put out the fires before firefighters arrived. 
 
"They were all single-family homes," Czerwinski said. "It appears to be some kind of incendiary device at all four houses." 
 
Firefighters and equipment from Richmond, Lanesborough, Lenox and Dalton were called in to help respond the blazes and cover the station. Fire investigators with the department were already working at the three smaller fires and arson investigators were on their way. 
 
Meanwhile, throughout the evening police had officers scouring the area looking for Jordan.
 
Firefighters extinguished the Appleton blaze and were packing up to leave the scene at about 10:30 p.m. That was when fire investigators began working the scene.


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