Cheshire Home Severely Damaged by Fire
Firefighters cut holes in the roof to access to the flames.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — A single-family home on School Street was severely damaged by fire on Thursday afternooon.
Firefighters responded to the call at about 3 p.m. of a fire in the basement.
"When they got here the fire had spread into the walls and up into the ceiling," said Fire Chief Tom Francesconi. "The first crews found heavy smoke, not a lot of fire at first, but when they made entry into the back of the house they found heavy fire near the furnace and in the chimney area."
Francesconi said it took about a 30 to 40 minutes to knock the visible flames down; firefighters were still mopping up at about 4:30.
Lanesborough and Adams fire departments also responded, Dalton covered the Cheshire fire house and North Adams Ambulance brought its rehab unit.
The fire chief said no one was injured but the homeowner's cat was said to be missing. Earlier reports from the scene were that the house was unoccupied at the time, but Francesconi could not confirm that.
According to the documents on file at the Registry of Deeds, the house has been owned by Michael Gallagher since November.
The fire is believed to have started in the basement at the back of the house but the cause has not yet been determined.
"There is heavy smoke damage," said Francesconi, who added he had not yet been inside. But had walked around the perimeter. "The backside of the house has quite a bit of fire damage. ... Definitely a lot of smoke and fire damage on the bottom, as you can see, the bottom skirt area. The fire got into that crawlspace and went right up the walls into the attic."
The fire chief said single-digit temperatures were not a hindrance but were taxing for firefighters. They were taking advantage the rehab unit's heated tent.
"There's heat and everything in the tent, so we've been rotating firefighters in and out of the tent," he said. "It's helped a lot."
Police Surround Reportedly Armed Pittsfield Man
Sometime after 5 p.m., SWAT officers and a Crisis Intervention officer were dispatched to a location at West Mountain Road in Cheshire, which authorities gleaned from a trace of the individual's cell phone. The man was said to have made threats that he might do harm to himself.
Calls to dispatch indicated that the man's girlfriend told police he had a gun with a full clip, and eight additional rounds of ammunition. State police confirmed that the incident was ongoing.
Law enforcement drew a perimeter around the area where the man is believed to be, still in his car, while the man's girlfriend carried out a conversation over the phone.
At 6:25, Pittsfield Police Department released an announcement that a major police operation was in progress.
"Operation One Team One Mission is in progress. Street level suppression and interdiction with PPD, MSP, BCSD, Probation and other LEOs."
This incident is ongoing. We will post updates as they become available.
Update: Andrew Apple, 27, of Pittsfield was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm without a license and larceny of a firearm shortly before 7 p.m. The team "missions" apparently referred to an operation by Pittsfield Police in the city.
Berkshire County Men Graduate From State Police Academy
Justin A. Kruszyna of Cheshire and Ryan E. Mauer of Pittsfield on Friday joined the ranks of the Massachusetts State Police with the 80th Recruit Training Troop. The 208 trainees were appointed to the rank of trooper at the DCU Center in Worcester.
Gov. Deval Patrick, Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, Public Safety Secretary Mary Beth Heffernan and state police Col. Marian McGovern welcomed the graduates and Patrick addressed them and administered the oath to the troopers.
"These graduates hold the honor of being the largest, most highly trained class the academy has ever produced, and the first in over five years," said Patrick. "I am pleased that we were able to secure the resources to make this happen for the state police class, which includes some of the bravest, strongest and smartest citizens from every corner of the commonwealth."
This is the largest graduating class in the history of the state police and the first since 2006. It includes former police officers, firefighters, attorneys, health-care professionals, military sergeants, business professionals and teachers. One hundred and three are veterans, 80 of whom served tours of duty in Afghanistan, Iraq or both.
Their traning began in mid-October and lasted 21 weeks. Curriculum included classroom study, physical training, defensive tactics and real-world law enforcement scenarios. These graduates participated in more than 75 scenario-based exercises during the course of their training along with traditional academic and physical training.
Early next week, the new troopers will begin a three-month break-in period during which they will be assigned to road patrols with a field training officer.
Because of attrition, the state is down approximately 500 troopers from its most recent high point in fall 2006. The new troopers will increase police presence on state highways and roads, as all of the trainees will begin their careers as road troopers.
"Your commandant, your training directors, your drill instructors, your firearms and fitness and defensive tactics instructors have all given you the tools you need to succeed," said McGovern. "That is, all the tools but one. The final piece, the quality upon which all the other skills and tools depend, is found inside each one of you."
Former Pittsfield-based Pharmacist Sentenced For Stealing Pills
Nichole Bombardier, 31, of Cheshire pleaded guilty to tampering with consumer products charges in federal court in March 2010. Prosecutors claim Bombardier stole at least 239 OxyContin from three different bottles from the Pittsfield Price Chopper pharmacy between May and September of 2008. At least one customer was hospitalized after taking medication used to treat high blood pressure instead of the painkiller.
Bombardier was also sentenced earlier in the week to repay $15,500 in fines and restitution to her former employer and patient.
Cheshire Woman Charged With Embezzlement
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A Cheshire woman was arraigned in Berkshire Superior Court Monday on embezzlement charges for allegedly taking about $110,000 from her job at TD Bank.
Jennifer Thurston, 39, had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on single counts of embezzlement by a bank employee and larceny over $250.
Judge Mary Lou Rup released her on personal recognizance. Thurston allegedly took approximately $110,000 from the bank between February 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009. The investigation was conducted by the Pittsfield Police Department.