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Berkshire County Firefighters Battle Brush Fire In Lee

Staff Reports
iBerkshires Staff

The staging area on Reservoir Road is just one of three where firefighters are attacking the fire.
LEE, Mass. — Firefighters from 19 fire departments and the state Department of Conservation  battled a massive brush fire near October Mountain State Forest on Thursday afternoon.

Fire Chief Alan B. Sparks said the fire had burned through more than 30 acres since being reported shortly after 1 p.m.

"I'm not going to say it's contained," said Sparks at one of the staging areas earlier in the afternoon. "I'm going to say some of it's contained."

The fire was reportedly contained around 7 p.m. with some departments ready to pack up and head home.

The fire began in the back yard of a Sharyn Drive property where someone was burning brush. The chief said the man had a permit to burn but lost control of the fire.

Staging areas had been set up at Sharyn Drive and Lander and Reservoir roads in an attempt to surround the fire. Sparks said it keeps jumping everytime the wind picks up.

Firefighters were using ATVs and hauling water in tankers to reach the flames. Adams Forest Wardens were among the North County departments at the scene. They had arrived one staging area and were awaiting instruction. Pittsfield, Tyringham and Richmond were also there.

There had been talk of using a Massachusetts National Guard helicopter to scoop water out of Laurel Lake to help douse the flames but it was not clear when and if that was going to occur.

Sparks said he didn't know how long firefighters would be on the scene.

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Massive Fire Devours Lee Lumber Yard

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Krause
Firefighters from all over the county helped to extinguish the fire.
LEE, Mass. — A massive structure fire on Railroad Street gutted a building at the century-old Dresser-Hull lumber yard on Tuesday night as nearly 70 firefighters battled the blaze in icy conditions.

The blaze began sometime before 8 p.m., consuming one of the main storage buildings in a huge ball of fire and sending smoke pluming over the town. It took nearly two hours to bring it under control.

Fire Chief Alan Sparks said it was not yet known how the fire began. He confirmed there were six or seven trucks inside the building and several explosions as the vehicles caught fire.

"There was a lot plywood, Sheetrock, different building materials," he said. "I'd say right now they were destroyed."

Firefighters from Lenox, Monterey, Dalton, Lanesborough, Great Barrington and Stockbridge were among those at the scene.

Battling the blaze was complicated by frigid conditions and icy surfaces. Firefighters were still putting out hotspots at 10 p.m. and expected to be on the scene all night.

"It's a windy night and a very cold night," Sparks said, adding the wind hampered the containment by fueling the blaze.

Main Street, Route 20, in Lee was closed for hours and traffic detoured. The Department of Public Works sent out sanders as streets around the blaze iced up because of the water from the hoses.

Dresser-Hull has been owned by the Shields family for more than a half-century at 60 Railroad St. It offers a variety of lumber and home improvement supplies and kitchen design center. It's website lists three boom trucks, three box trucks and a number of forklifts and flatbeds for delivery use.

Here are more photos from the scene.


Decade-Old Lee Rape Case Comes To End

Andy McKeever

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It may have been quite the debacle and took more than a decade but the prosecutions of three men accused of raping a women in Lee in 1998 have come to an end.

William Jansen, 35, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court to one count of concealing or compounding a felony Wednesday and placed on two-years probation. Jansen was accused of videotaping Aaron Kincaid and Richard Lampron rape a woman in their Lee apartment in 1998.

Jansen pleaded guilty to misleading investigators about his own and the other two men's actions.

Last fall, Kincaid pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated rape on the then 27-year-old woman after multiple trials. Lampron was sentenced to seven to 10 years in 2005, which he is serving concurrently with a similar sentence for his conviction on another rape in 1999.

The case had taken a lot of twists and turns, with mistrials and Lampron fleeing the state prior to the first trial.

Tags: rape, Lampron, Kincaid      

Fire Breaks Out at Lee Resort

Nichole Dupont
Check out this video by The Berkshire Record. Thanks to firebug below for leading us to it.


LEE, Mass. — A fire destroyed a lodge at Oak 'N Spruce Resort this morning. The building was not occupied at the time and the cause of the blaze is under investigation. A state fire marshal was seen arriving on the scene at 11 a.m.

The Lee Fire Department was backed up by South Lee, Stockbridge, Great Barrington, Lenox, Tyringham, Monterey and Stockbridge in containing the blaze that was believed to have started sometime around 5 a.m.

Firefighters said the call was received at 6:30 a.m. but one of the tenants in a nearby building is said to have smelled smoke shortly after 5 a.m. South Lee firefighter Garth Story said, "It was cooking pretty hot" when firefighters arrived on the scene.

It took more than two hours to douse the blaze in the heavily developed complex, which includes a number of three-story timeshare structures around a central "amenity core."

Meadow Street leading to the resort and a side road into the complex were closed to traffic.

The building was a two-story structure described The Berkshire Eagle as "Tanglewood Hall"; it is located next to the registration building.

The property was operated as a farm school for boys by the Episcopalian Diocese until being purchased and turned into a ski resort by Frank J. Prinz in 1947. Prinz sold the property to timeshare developers in 1985; it was greatly updated and expanded on by its current owner Silverleaf Resorts Inc.

Story developing ...

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Tags: fire, structure      

Kincaid Pleads Guilty to Aggravated Rape

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It's taken almost exactly a dozen years, two trials and numerous twists and turns through the court system to conclude the prosecution of Aaron Kincaid of Lenox.

Kincaid, 36, pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on Monday morning to four counts of aggravated rape from an assault on a then 27-year-old woman on Sept. 24, 1998.

He was ordered by Judge John Agostini to serve concurrent 719-day sentences, or time already served, on the four charges at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute at Cedar Junction on the recommendation of the district attorney and his attorney. He was also placed on two years' probation on the condition he have no contact with the victim and a witness during the probationary period.

"We do not always achieve all that we aspire to in every case," said District Attorney David F. Capeless in a statement. "Today's sentence is not what was handed down back in 2001, but we have realized something else, something even more significant in this singular case – a vindication of the victim and the other witnesses after all these years, an affirmation under oath that they had, indeed, told the truth."

Kincaid was guilty of the same four charges in Superior Court in September 2001 and was ordered by Judge Thomas Curley to serve concurrent 15- to 18-year sentences in Walpole.

In May 2002, Kincaid filed a motion for a new trial and a post-verdict inquiry of the jurors. He alleged that the jury learned that a co-defendant, Richard C. Lampron Jr., had fled the state. Curley, who died in 2005, interviewed all the jurors and ordered a new trial for Kincaid.  

Coverage of Kincaid and Jansen's 2006 trial

Appellate Court 2009 opinion on  Kincaid and Jansen's requests for dismissal

The district attorney's office appealed the ruling and the Appeals Court agreed with the prosecution that any information about Lampron's flight came from juror speculation and not from some outside sources and that the evidence at trial permitted the jurors to infer that Lampron had fled. The court also ruled that the overwhelming evidence of Kincaid's guilt outweighed any influence that this information may have had upon the jury.  

The Supreme Judicial Court granted further appellate review of the Appeals Court's decision and affirmed Curley's order allowing a new trial for Kincaid. His second trial in December 2006 before Agostini resulted in a mistrial after the jury failed to deliver a verdict. Kincaid subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the indictments on double jeopardy grounds in the Superior Court. Agostini denied the motion and the Appeals Court affirmed the Superior Court's order.

Lampron was captured in Pennsylvania in 2002 and subsequently charged; he was sentenced to seven to 10 years in 2005, which he is serving concurrently with a similar sentence for his conviction on another rape in 1999. A third man, William E. Jansen of Pittsfield, was charged in October 2005. He was prosecuted along with Kincaid in the trial that ended with a hung jury. Both he and Kincaid attempted to have the charges dismissed but an Appeals Court last December upheld the indictments.

The three men were sharing an apartment in Lee when Jansen allegedly videotaped a masked Lampron and Kincaid have sex with the woman. The tape never surfaced but witnesses who saw it say the woman appeared to have been incapacitated.

Capeless, who as first assistant district attorney was the prosecuter at Kincaid's first trial, had high praise for the victim and the police investigators who have made numerous court appearances since 2000. 

"I have made every effort during the past 10 years to ensure that these horrible crimes were fully investigated and vigorously prosecuted, and that the convictions obtained were forcefully defended," he said. "I am gratified that our work and the decision of the first jury has finally been vindicated. The convictions in this case came about only as the result of a dogged, professional investigation by State Police Trooper Brian Berkel, the stoic persistence of the victim in seeing the case through, the commendable actions of the other witnesses in coming forward with their information, and the support and compassion shown to these persons by victim assistance advocate Mary Shogry. I am particularly pleased for all of them."

Tags: rape, Kincaid, Lampron, Jansen      
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