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Fire Guts Burke Avenue Home In Pittsfield

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A family of five was displaced Sunday night after a fire gutted their Burke Street home.
 
Just before 6 p.m. on Sunday, dispatch received multiple calls of flames shooting out of the front of a duplex at 125 Burke Ave. Shortly after firefighters arrived, the windows on the second floor blew out and the fire quickly spread throughout the interior of the home.
 
"We started deploying hand streams and by the time we were getting in position, the second-floor window in the back of the building, or what we call the C side, blew out and the second floor flashed over," Deputy Fire Chief Matt Noyes said.
 
"From there, it just kind of took off through the house."
 
The duplex was occupied by the same family and none of the residents were harmed. At least three were inside the building at the time and were able to escape. However, the family dog died and a cat is still missing. 
 
"It is pretty well gutted. Structurally it is still sound but the contents of the first and second floor are destroyed. They also lost a family dog and we have a cat that is missing," Noyes said.
 
Two of the family members were transported to Berkshire Medical Center. According to Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski, one woman had a pre-existing medical condition and she was transported for precautionary measures and another family member reported difficulty breathing. Noyes said a firefighter was also transported for a knee injury.
 
The family is now working with the Red Cross.
 
Noyes said when Engine 5 first arrived, it found flames spreading quickly on the first floor. When Noyes arrived, he called in a second alarm, bringing all on-duty firefighters to the scene. 
 
"Immediately when I got on scene, I saw the volume of fire and I made it double [alarm] which gives you everybody we have, which is 18 guys," Noyes said.
 
An engine company from Lenox covered Pittsfield's headquarters, Dalton sent a ladder company to the scene, and Hinsdale provided rehab. 
 
Noyes said the firefighters had a little difficulty getting access to water, running a line a good distance from the hydrant.
 
Once on scene, a crew took a hand line to the fire while others got into position to attack it from the rear. But, just as the firefighters shut down the front line and prepared to go in the back, the windows blew out.
 
"We had fire blowing out of the front of the building. We set up to go in the back, there is a sliding door, we wanted to come in and push it out the front of the building. It was growing rapidly and we had an alarm company that was here grab a line and hit it quickly,"
 
From then on, all on the scene were busy combating a significant amount of flames. Noyes said once the department was able to get in, the fire was knocked down quickly.
 
"They battled. Once we were able to get in there, they put the fire out quickly. There was so much fire, such a large volume of fire, we had all of our crews working. They worked hard. They battled hard. They put it out quickly but it was going pretty good before we got here," Noyes said.
 
Fire Inspectors responded to the scene but have not yet determined a cause of the fire.


     

Pittsfield Police Seeking Information on Gas Station Robbery

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are seeking information on an armed robbery that occurred at a Wahconah Street gas station on Saturday night. 
 
The incident happened at about 10:30 p.m. at the Gulf Gas Station at 186 Wahconah St. When officers arrived at the location they learned that a masked man had entered the store, brandished a knife, and demanded money. 
 
The clerk, who suffered a small cut to one of his fingers during the robbery, reported that the suspect took cash from the register and then fled the store. The robbery suspect was described as being a white or Hispanic male. 
 
Anyone with information on the robbery is asked to contact the Pittsfield Police Detective Bureau at 413-448-9705.
     

Pittsfield Man Arrested After Leaving Scene of Accident

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A 20-year-old Pittsfield man was arrested on Wednesday morning after police said his reckless driving caused him to hit a van and a bridge.
 
Trevor Maffuccio was charged with leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, leaving the scene of a property damage accident, and reckless operation of a motor vehicle. Maffuccio was arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court.
 
Maffuccio was driving north on Holmes Road when he reportedly crossed a double yellow line to pass the vehicle in front of him at a high rate of speed and collided nearly head-on with a southbound van, spun out of control, struck the bridge, and went off the roadway into the woods. The van's operator and other witnesses then observed Maffuccio's vehicle drive back onto the roadway and leave the scene. 
 
The driver of the vehicle that was passed reported that Maffuccio "had been following and tailgating him since they were on Route 7." The van's operator had to swerve to prevent a head-on collision.
 
Police responded to the report of the accident at Holmes Road and Shetland at about 10:23 a.m. While heading toward the accident, Officer Brandon Gallagher observed a red sport-utility driving eastbound on Williams Street. The SUV, which had extensive damage to it, was being operated at a slow speed with its emergency flashers on.
 
"Gallagher noted the vehicle's side airbags had been deployed and that although the vehicle was being driven, one of its tires was underneath it," according to the police statement.
 
Maffuccio was driving the SUV and admitted to being involved in the Holmes Road accident when Gallagher stopped him. 
 
A passenger in the van, Shaun Delmolino, 50, of Dalton, complained of injuries and was transported to Berkshire Medical Center by ambulance. The extent of Delmolino's injuries are unknown but are not believed to be life-threatening.
     

Pittsfield Man Charged With Murder

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A city man has been charged in the fatal July 4 shooting of 39-year-old Paul E. Henry.
 
J.C. Chadwell, 39, of Seymour Street on Monday entered a plea of not guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on a single count of murder. Chadwell is accused of shooting Henry on John Street on July 4, 2017.
 
Police responded to a report of a shooting in the area of Durant Park around 11:30 on the night of July 4. Henry was pronounced dead by emergency medical technicians on the scene. An autopsy ruled the cause of death as a gunshot wound to the chest.
 
Judge Mark Pasquariello on Monday ordered Chadwell to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction without the right to bail. A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for March 14.
 
Chadwell was arrested on a warrant by police on Friday night. The shooting apparently was related to a dispute between the two men about several years' old debt. 
 
The investigation was conducted by members of the Pittsfield Police Department Detective Bureau with assistance from the Berkshire County Sheriff's Department, State Police detectives assigned to the District Attorney's Office, members of the Berkshire Law Enforcement Task Force and the Massachusetts State Police Firearms Identification Section.
     

Pittsfield Officer Cleared in Officer-Involved Shooting Death

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The district attorney has determined that Office Christopher Colello will not be charged with a crime in the shooting of Daniel Gillis in September.
 
Colello shot and killed 36-year-old Daniel Gillis on Taylor Street on Sept. 1, 2017. District Attorney David Capeless said on Wednesday that Colello "acted lawfully in defense of his fellow officers when Gillis suddenly charged at the officers while brandishing a knife."
 
"I have completed the investigation into the shooting death of Daniel Gillis on the afternoon on September 1, 2017, and I have concluded that there was no criminal behavior on the part of any of the officers of the Pittsfield Police Department. Specifically, I have determined that Officer Christopher Colello acted lawfully in defense of his fellow officers when Gillis suddenly charged at the officers while brandishing a knife," Capeless said in a statement.
 
"Clearly, this was an unfortunate situation which ended tragically. The entire incident developed within a short period of time and rapidly escalated when Gillis emerged from the house holding a knife to his throat and advanced upon officers despite their calls to drop the knife. When Gillis suddenly changed direction and charged at several officers, yelling at them, the situation changed from dangerous to life-threatening."
 
Capeless went on to say, "In this case, a cell phone video taken by a neighbor was quite helpful to the investigation, as it showed the incident shortly after Gillis emerged from the rear of the house and included the shooting. The investigation involved multiple, extended interviews of the many participants and witnesses, but the few seconds of the real-time capture of the event provided the most informative piece of the investigation."
 
Police responded that afternoon to a reported domestic incident. According to police, Gillis had initially barricaded himself in the house and was armed with a knife. He was said to be distraught and intoxicated, according to Capeless. Authorities said he exited the home and charged at officers while refusing to drop the weapon.
 
Colello shot the man seven times and Gillis was later pronounced dead at Berkshire Medical Center. The incident was the second officer-involved shooting involving Colello. He had previously shot a man in Dalton in 2010. It was also the city's second officer-involved shooting in 2017. In January 2017, 55-year-old Mark Marauszwski was shot by Officer Martin Streit after a police pursuit. Streit was cleared of any wrongdoing in that case.
 
The investigation of the Gillis incident was conducted by the state police detective unit assigned to the berkshire district attorney's office, assisted by the state police's Firearm Identification and Crime Scene Services sections, chemists assigned to the State Police Crime Laboratory, the Berkshire County sheriff's department and the Pittsfield Police Department.
     
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