North Adams Blaze Leaves Families Without Homes, Pets
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be added to the article.
Fatal Accident in North Adams Closes Massachusetts Ave
Update at 11:20 p.m., Oct. 16: Police have identified the victim in Friday's fatal crash as Anthony Corsi, 62, of North Adams.
Corsi was eastbound in a 2010 Rav 4 when it collided with a 2005 GMC utility truck driven Matthew Reynolds, 29, also of North Adams. Reynolds and three minor children who were passengers in the truck were taken by North Adams Ambulance to the Berkshire Medical Center Emergency Facility in North Adams. Their condition was not known.
The accident occurred at about 3:25 p.m. near 541 Massachusetts Ave. North Adams Fire and Police also responded to the scene and Clarksburg Police assisted with control of the scene. The accident is still under investigation.
The road was reopened at about 8 p.m. Traffic was detoured over Route 2, causing backups during the evening rush hour.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A head-on collision resulted in a fatality on Friday afternoon. Police are withholding the name of the man killed pending notification of kin.
The crash occurred at about 4 p.m. on Massachusetts Avenue Extension, in the "dip" at the top of the hill, when an eastbound car collided with a westbound truck carrying an adult and three children.
Lt. William Baker said preliminary investigation indicated the car veered into the westbound lane, striking the truck.
The truck's passengers were taken to the Berkshire Medical Center Emergency Facility in North Adams. Baker said he did not know the extent of their injuries but that they did not appear to be serious.
The car had only the male driver.
Both vehicles sustained extensive front-end damage.
The road was blocked between Brown Street and Roberts Drive for about an hour, when the blockade on the east end was moved to just past Tyler Street. Traffic was backed up along Route 2 during the rush hour traffic.
The state police accident reconstruction team arrived shortly after 5 p.m. and the road was expected to be closed for at least a couple hours.
North Adams Police Nab Suspected Heroin Dealers
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — North Adams Police have arrested two people after a motor vehicle stop early Thursday morning uncovered nearly 1,000 bags of heroin.
Officers and detectives executed a motor vehicle stop on Blackinton Street at approximately 12:55 a.m. on a red Chrysler sedan bearing Massachusetts registration 648EL9.
The operator of the motor vehicle was identified as Courtney Schnopps, 21, of Protection Avenue, who was found to have an outstanding warrant for her arrest. The passenger of the vehicle was identified as 22-year-old Matthew Capek of Blackinton Street.
Officers on scene had prior information from confidential informants that Schnopps and Capek were traveling to Hartford, Conn., to purchase a large quantity of heroin and transport it back to North Adams for sale. Schnopps and Capek were separated and, according to police, gave elusive answers that were not corroborated.
A K9 was uncovered bags of heroin in the vehicle and Schnopps and Capek also had heroin found on them during their arrest, said police, that matched the same packaging found in the vehicle. Some 990 bags of heroin were seized, with a street value of about $9,740.
There was no money or drug paraphernalia located in the vehicle.
Police said Schnopps and Capek both admitted under questioning to making a trip to Hartford. Capek claimed that the amount of heroin found in the vehicle was for his own personal use, according to police.
Bail for Capek was set at $2,000 and Schnopps was held without bail due to the outstanding warrant.
Both will be charged with possession with intent to distribute Class A substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
North Adams Cruiser Involved in Crash; Officer Injured
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A local police officer was taken to the hospital on Wednesday afternoon after his cruiser was involved in a collision on Church Street.
School Resource Officer Fran Maruco was taken to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, where he was treated for contusions and a head injury.
North Adams Police posted an update on its Facebook page later in the evening:
"Just an update on the m/v accident involving Officer Maruco. He is doing pretty well. Several bumps and bruises, very sore. Checked out at BMC. Should be returning home soon. The driver of the other vehicle is expected to be OK, too. A speedy recovery to all. Thank you for your thoughts and best wishes."
The two-car accident occurred shortly after 3 p.m. at the intersection of Church and West Shaft Road. Maruco was reportedly leaving Drury High School and heading north. The state police accident reconstruction team was at the scene and state police were assisting with traffic control.
The front of the North Adams cruiser was heavily damaged, and the impact appeared to be on the front driver's side. The second car, a Mercury sport-utility vehicle, also sustained heavy front-end driver's side damage, with the front panel torn from the car. The windshield was fractured on the driver's side.
Church Street was closed to through traffic from Hodges Cross Road to Ashland Street for several hours during the investigation. West Shaft Road was also closed.
The detours slowed traffic to a crawl along State Street, with cars backed up past Walmart on Curran Highway to the south.
No further information was immediately available.
MCLA Towers Evacuated for Strong Odor; Students Taken to BMC
|A hazmat team prepares to enter the MCLA towers on Saturday night after a strong smell forced the dormitory to be evacuated.|
Updated at 9 p.m. on Sept. 21: Tower B was reopened as of 6 p.m. on Monday night.
Tower A remains closed, although testing has not found any contaminant or source of the odor that caused the dormitory's evacuation on Saturday.
"On Sunday, September 20, Clean Harbors, an environmental contractor who specializes in emergency response air testing, was hired by the College to conduct a detailed evaluation of the building. Varieties of technology were used throughout the entire area of Berkshire Towers. These tests showed no traces of contaminants," according to a statement from the college.
Further testing was done on Monday with results expected by Tuesday. Representatives from North Adams Fire Department, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Indoor Air Quality Program, and MCLA Facilities Management Department also did a walk-through on Monday.
Updated, write-thru, new photos; 11:08 p.m.; latest update at 9:22 a.m., Sept. 20, includes possible cause of odor.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Nearly 30 MCLA students were taken to the hospital on Saturday night after being exposed to an unknown substance that caused the evacuation of the Berkshire Towers dormitory.
According to a statement from Massachusetts College of LIberal Arts on Sunday morning, "indications of ammonia were found but no source was identified. The college has arranged for further air quality testing to ensure the safety of Berkshire Towers residents."
The Berkshire Towers will remain closed for the short term until then and students residing in the dorms will be offered alternative housing. Classes will resume Monday as scheduled.
The students who were taken to the hospital for evaluation have returned to campus.
James Stakenas, vice president of administration and finance of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, said on Saturday night the the Regional Center for Poison Control had recommended taking the students to the hospital as a "hyper precaution."
"The students are being transported by MCLA vans with EMT folks," Stakenas said. "Again, it's a hyper precaution and the parents of these students are being contacted."
Students on the fifth floor of Tower A had complained of an unidentifiable smell and throat irritation at about 5:30. The Fire Department was called, which in turn contacted the Department of Fire Services Hazardous Materials Response for the tier 2 response.
"They are going to monitor and check for different types of chemicals," said Fire Chief Stephen Meranti. "There's not much for chemicals — there is no refrigeration, no air conditioning, no aerosol."
Meranti said the focus is on Tower A, the northern of the two high-rise dorms on Church Street.
"We don't have any reports of anything in Tower B," he said.
The chief said the evaluation is very labor intensive, with suited hazmat personnel rotating through the building.
"They're still metering, they're still monitoring, it's a methodical process. They have to go floor by floor to check the area," he said. "You can only be in there for a certain amount of time. They do what they can. they come out and they send another team .... it's a continual rotation.
"It's a long drawn-out process."
Two teams in two vehicles arrived at 8:25 and at 8:55 p.m., with the first team entering the building shortly before 9 p.m.
Meranti did not know what they were measuring for but anticipated they would be able to do an evaluation onsite with their specialized equipment.
Twenty-seven students who were on or near the fifth floor, or who complained of similar symptoms, were taken to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield and to its North Adams campus. They were required to shed their clothing and to be transported in Tyvek suits as part of the hospital's decontamination procedure. Meranti said that was "standard procedure."
Earlier in the evening, several students had said they were told to the gather in the towers' lobby, then left the building when the alarms went off.
"Students detected a smell at about 5:30 and notified the Fire Department," Stakenas said. "The students were evacuated to Venable Hall."
Both towers were expected to be closed for hours, if not the entire night. The city was providing its emergency shelter trailer and was able to help provide food and other comforts. Pizza from Pizza Works was also ordered for the displaced students stuck in Venable's gymnasium because the cafeteria had closed.
Stakenas estimated about 80 students had been evacuated; the towers hold about 250 but many may have left for the weekend or were elsewhere.
North Adams Ambulance Service stationed an ambulance near the gym. Also on scene is the mobile incident command vehicle, North Adams firefighters and police, campus police, and the North Adams Ambulance rehab trailer.
Church Street was closed between Blackinton Street and Hoosac Hall.
There were a few students frustrated with the inability to reach their dorms. "I just want to get some pants," said one girl. Another was annoyed that she was unable to find out when they would be able to get back in or where they would be sleeping.
Stakenas said students should be checking their phones for updates through the college's alert system.
Two students said they were unable to get prescription medicine that was in their dorm rooms. Catherine Holbrook, vice president of student services, said students in those cases should contact college staff to assess how critical the need is; North Adams Ambulance General Manager John Meaney Jr. noted that in an emergency, they can call 911.
Holbrook also encouraged students to contact their parents as soon as possible.
"Students should be talking to their parents and letting them know they're OK," she said. "There are a lot of worried parents contacting our police and the town, it's tying up the emergency numbers."