A kitten was discovered inside the apartment and given to a neighbor to care for. At left, a washing machine was removed from the unit; authorities believe the fire started near the appliance.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A local woman was taken to the hospital after neighbors helped her escape a fire in her apartment at 4 Isbell St. on Monday evening.
The cause of the smoky blaze is still under investigation but authorities believe it was started by a lamp falling on flammable materials in the bedroom, near a washing machine. The appliance and some material was taken out of the building.
Neighbors said they pounded on the doors and window to alert the occupant, who they identified as Patricia Heller, to the smoke they saw coming from the one-story unit on the end of Isbell Street in the Greylock Valley Apartments. Tabatha Rogers said her sister, Heather Rohane, noticed the commotion and told her there was a fire.
When she looked out, she could see someone yelling at the bathroom window in the house behind hers but at first thought it was a child playing games. Then she saw the smoke.
"She didn't know how to put the locks down. ... She thought I was talking about the regular locks," said Rogers, referring to the child safety locks that prevent the windows from opening all the way. "She was yelling 'help,' somebody please help me out this window."
Rogers said it took three tries, with the apartment's occupant becoming increasingly panicked, of closing the window before she was able to manage the locks and be helped out. "It was filling up with a lot of smoke," Rogers said.
The incident was reported at 5:09 p.m. as a structure fire with persons trapped inside. Fire Director Stephen Meranti said police were first on the scene and found Heller already outside.
The first truck on the scene saw smoke and lights. "They stretched the hand line in and found fire in the bedroom," said Meranti. "Just the contents of the room were burning, it didn't get into the structure at all."
Smoke could still be seen coming from the building about a half-hour later. Three trucks were at the scene along with Fire & Alarm and the North Adams Ambulance Service, which broke out water bottles for the firefighters. A neighbors in the residential development crowded along the sidewalk to watch.
The victim was taken to North Adams Regional Hospital by the North Adams Ambulance Service for smoke inhalation. A dog was already outside and a small gray kitten was found by firefighters inside but didn't seem injured.
Meranti said the apartment was not livable and the health inspector was expected to condemn the apartment. The resident, whom neighbors said was planning to move, had somewhere else to go for the night and the Red Cross was being alerted.
"The Housing authority is here and they're going to get right in there and clean it up," said Meranti.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A Brook Terrace resident is charged with stabbing a 27-year-old man on Saturday.
Mario Babbs, 25, had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf in Northern Berkshire District Court on Monday on single counts of armed assault with intent to murder and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon.
Babbs is ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction without bail pending a dangerousness hearing on Friday. The victim, Cole DeSanty, was hospitalized at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield and is being treated for multiple stab wounds.
According to court documents, DeSanty suffered "life-threatening injuries" including a collapsed lung, which needed to be surgically repaired, and a severed rib. He is also expected to suffer some vision and hearing loss as a result.
Police say DeSanty was found bleeding on Houghton Street shortly before noon on Saturday and was transported to North Adams Regional Hospital. Babbs was also being treated for a lacerated hand, which he told state police he suffered while repairing a car.
Police discovered a bloody 6-inch steak knife and a trail of blood after executing a search warrant at Babbs' Brook Terrace apartment.
DeSanty was later transported to Berkshire Medical Center after state police interviewed both DeSanty and Babbs. Police say DeSanty gave Babbs a ride home on Friday night and on Saturday morning, Babbs called DeSanty saying he left his wallet in the car. DeSanty said he did not have the wallet but drove over to Babbs' home so he could look.
After finding the wallet underneath the seat, Babbs invited DeSanty into his home, police said. Once inside, Babbs allegedly attacked DeSanty with a steak knife claiming DeSanty was stealing from him. DeSanty was able to break away from Babbs, which police say matches Babbs cutting his hand. Police also say the attack was drug related.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Three city men are charged with pilfering booze and equipment from two neighboring establishments.
Timothy Domina, 27, Stavri Yanka, 25, and Zachary Mazza, 24, are all charged with breaking and entering in the nighttime and larceny over $250 in connection with a burglary at the Mohawk Tavern and the out-of-business restaurant Rub in the early hours of March 19.
The three allegedly stole nearly all of the Mohawk's hard liquor, many bottles of beer, an entire keg, shot glasses and a guitar and a cash register, television and stereo equipment from Rub.
According to court documents, Domina was the ringleader of the break-ins. He entered an admission of sufficient facts in Northern Berkshire District Court on April 13 and was sentenced to two years at the Berkshire County House of Corrections. Yanka and Mazza were charged via subpoena but had not yet appeared in court.
Police reported that the three men were living together upstairs from the Marshall Street bars and that Domina had broken a window at Rub after midnight on March 19 and began grabbing items. He then allegedly had his roommates help him carry the items upstairs.
After receiving arrest warrants, police found Domina and chased him to Bracewell Avenue, where he was arrested. During the arrest, police said they found a knife and prescription drugs on his person. Domina was later charged with possession of a class E substance and possession of a dangerous weapon but those counts were dismissed by the state, as well as single counts of destruction of property and receiving stolen property.
School Union Ex-Workers Charged With Embezzlement
By Andy McKeever On: 06:28PM / Wednesday May 09, 2012
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Two former Northern Berkshire School Union employees were charged on Monday with making nearly $30,000 in unauthorized purchases with the union's credit cards.
Carol Fryc, 71, of North Adams and Donna Burdick, 57, of Florida, were both arraigned in Northern Berkshire District Court after a state police investigation revealed $29,631 worth of unauthorized purchases. They are being charged with single counts of larceny over $250.
The two worked in the small school union office in North Adams; the school union includes Clarksburg, Florida and Savoy schools.
According to court documents, Fryc, the school union's business manager, used the credit cards for an array of purchases — from veterinarian bills to digital cameras to candy for the office — at both Staples and WalMart. Some of the purchases were work-related but "unauthorized" while others were for personal use. Burdick allegedly used the credit cards for purchases from Staples.
The charges date back to 2004 — and some $8,000 is still questioned — but wasn't discovered until last fall when then Clarksburg Selectwoman Debra LeFave suspected that invoices were being forged. The School Union Superintendent Jonathan Lev filed a police response and both women were fired.
The largest unauthorized expenditures came from gift cards. More than $12,000 of the purchases were for Staples gift cards, which were later used for various purchases.
Firefighters inspect the crushed front end of the car. At left, the damage to the SUV.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A two-car collision at the corner of Eagle and River streets sent two people to the hospital on Tuesday.
A red sedan headed north on Eagle Street apparently collided with the back end of a black sport utility vehicle headed across the intersection from River to Canal Street at about 3:30 p.m. The front-end of the red car was totaled; the SUV was dented and scratched on the rear passenger door.
Both the driver and occupant in the red car were transported to North Adams Regional Hospital. The road was closed while the occupants and cars were removed from the scene.