Pittsfield Firefighters Battle Bakery Fire
|Flames burst out of the second story of the Lampiasi's Bakery in Pittsfield.|
Update: Write-thru at 6:19 p.m. with quotes and new information.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The well-known Lampiasi's Bakery was engulfed in smoke and flames on Friday afternoon as firefighters battled to save what was left of the building.
The bakery at 53 Kent Ave. was open for business just before 2 p.m. when the fire was reported. Five workers, including two sons of owner Shawn Lampiasi, fled the building and were all accounted for.
Heavy smoke could be seen over North Street from the upper floor of the two-story building, and toward the back, where the bakery's century-old wood-fired ovens are located.
Fire officials do not have a cause but believe the blaze started in a void above the ovens between the first and second floor.
"Initially we did an interior attack, there was fire above the ovens," said Deputy Fire Chief Michael Polidoro. "We were operating the first alarm assignment, they were making no headway into the attack.
"We called the second alarm, which brings firefighters on duty to the scene and got mutual aid to cover the city with Dalton, Lanesborough and Lenox."
An hour into it, the airhorns were sounded and firefighters abruptly pulled from the building as the flames burst through the second-floor windows.
"There were guys who were in the building who unfortunately did not hear the evacuation order from me and one of our universal codes, throughout most fire departments, is to use the airhorns — three short blasts — in order to evacuate the buiding."
The top floor reportedly had office equipment and cleaning supplies but it was not clear they were stored there. The cause of the blaze has not yet been determined.
The building dates to 1900 and suffered from another fire in the late 1980s. The property is assessed at $107,600.
The flames were beginning to die down later in the afternoon as firefighters mounted an exterior attack. Extra oxygen supplies were brought in.
Kent Avenue was closed and Seymour Street between Madison and Kent. County Ambulance, fire and building inspectors, and Berkshire Gas were at the scene, and many bystanders.
"A defensive attack as it is right now, is trying to maintian the fire at one point," said Polidoro as the crews continued to work at about 4:30. "They seem to be making some headway at this point."
The deputy chief said no one was injured although a couple firefighters experienced heat stress from the initial attack. "They all have recovered."
"The number of renovations in this building hampered our operations," he said. "Because of the different layers we had to get to ... the fire got a good hold."
The building, at the corner of Kent and Seymour, is separated from nearby buildings by parking lots and streets.
Lampiasi has operated the business for 31 years. It serves area restaurants and the public schools with breads and rolls. The building is insured. The bakery had been previously owned by the late Walter F. Komuniecki Sr., who operated it for some 50 years before he died in 1969.
Pittsfield Residence Heavily Damaged by Fire
Firefighters knocked down a blaze at a home on Columbus Avenue.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Firefighters responded to a two-alarm fire Tuesday afternoon at 237 Columbus Ave.
The fire in the two-story home was reported at 1:18 p.m. The occupant and two cats and two small dogs escaped the building.
Heavy black smoke was pouring from the upper floors of the home; flames could be seen shooting from back of the building.
"As they pulled out of headquarters, they had a large column of fire and smoke coming right up in front of them," said Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski.
He said the first deputy on the scene requested a second alarm; the 19 firefighters on duty responded and off-duty ones were called in to cover the station.
The building incurred heavy damage and is likely to be condemned. The fire started on the east side and quickly spread into the attic.
"The siding on this building is an old asphalt-shingle siding that we commonly refer to as 'gasoline siding' and it really propogates a fire very quickly," said Czerwinski. "It was that siding that created a lot of fire and a lot of smoke."
The building, which dates to 1850, is a single-family home that at some point had been renovated into three apartments, according to city records, but was restored to a single-family again.
The fire chief recalled there had been some spot fires in the building eight or 10 years ago and it was a vacant single-family at that time. "I didn't realize somebody was in here trying to rehabilitate it," he said.
Czerwinski expected crews to be on the scene the rest of the afternoon as the cause of the blaze is investigated. The American Red Cross also provided one adult who was displaced by the fire with shelter, food, clothing and a comfort kit and provided food and drinks to the first responders. The Red Cross will follow up with the affected individual in the coming days.
"We have crews right now that are working in the attic trying to make sure that's out," he said. "You can see the light smoke, that's probably a deep-seated fire in there it will take a little while to get through there."
The property is owned by Columbus Avenue Realty Trust, according to documents on file with the Middle Berkshire Registrar of Deeds.
Columbus Avenue was closed to traffic between Robbins Avenue and Francis Avenue as firefighters deployed equipment.
President of Enviro-Labs Faces Additional Charges
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — William Enser Jr., the president of Berkshire Enviro-Labs, was back in Superior Court on Tuesday facing new charges.
Enser previously pleaded not guilty to 15 counts of knowingly falsifying reports submitted to the state Department of Environmental Protection and 15 counts of willfully making false reports to MassDEP. He allegedly backdated drinking-water sample analysis to cover up misconduct and feign compliance with environmental laws.
He now faces an additional 14 counts of willfully making false reports to the MassDEP and another 14 counts of knowingly falsifying submitted reports, all of which he pleaded not guilty to in Berkshire Superior Court on Monday. The additional charges brings the total counts up to 58.
According to Attorney General Martha Coakley, Enser, 63, of Lee, continued to work at the lab through February 2013 and failed to submit required sampling that showed bacterial contamination in drinking water samples.
Enser allegedly hid samples that revealed contamination and instead took multiple samples and sent only passing results to the state. Authorities say that in one instance in October 2012, Enser directed an employee to report a drinking water sample which had come from the tap in the Enviro-Labs’ office instead of the public water source.
The lab's certification for testing samples has been revoked by the state.
"These additional charges allege that this defendant failed to submit water sample analysis that showed bacterial contamination to the MassDEP," Coakley said in a press release issued on Tuesday. "He is now prohibited from being involved in the operation of the company and is no longer able to tamper with water testing reports and potentially put people at risk."
After the first arraignment, Enser was prohibited by the court to act as the drinking water system operator, take drinking water samples, conducting water testing or reporting water data. But, he remained active with the company and Judge Daniel Ford ordered receivership of Enviro-Labs. Enser is prohibited from being involved in the company in any way.
"The Environmental Strike Force's continued investigation into the activities of Mr. Enser, who has already been indicted for falsifying drinking water reports, has now revealed evidence of additional fraud," said Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell of MassDEP. "MassDEP is committed to upholding the integrity and the safety of drinking water programs across the Commonwealth."
The investigation began in September 2012. Enser is due back in court in June.
Pittsfield Police Seeking Suspect in Bank Robbery
Pittsfield Co-op's Dalton Avenue branch was closed Monday afternoon after it was robbed. Above, the suspect in the robbery captured by cameras leaving the scene.
UPDATE: Tuesday, April 2, 2013: Police have released photos of the suspect.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Pittsfield Police Detective Bureau at 413-448-9705.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are searching for a suspect in the robbery of Pittsfield Cooperative Bank's 110 Dalton Ave. branch.
According to Pittsfield Police, the robbery occurred at about 1 p.m. when a man passed a note to a teller. Police say no weapon was shown but they have not revealed the contents of the note.
An undisclosed amount of cash was taken and the suspect left on foot on Dartmouth Street.
Police Chief Michael Wynn said no one was injured in the incident.
"In a very quick period of time, patrol responded, had good information, description information," he told the Police Advisory Board on Monday evening. "K-9 tracked to an adjoinng street where the suspect, they believe, got into a car."
The suspect is described as a white man, in his late 30s to mid-40s, approximately 5-feet-8 and weighing between 200 and 210 pounds. He was wearing a yellow "Pelle Pelle" T-shirt, tan cap and black rectangular-frame glasses.
The Detective Bureau is reviewing video from the bank and adjoining businesses.
If anyone has information, call the Pittsfield Police Detective Bureau at 413-448-9705.
Local Animal Advocate Offers Reward in Adams Cat Case
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Allen Harris, president of Berkshire Money Management, is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the individual or individuals responsible for the recent cruel and sadistic treatment of a cat in the vicinity of Howland Avenue in Adams.
The young cat, named Cleo, was found left to die in a makeshift setup to hang the animal. Luckily, a passerby heard the choking cat, called 911, and saved its life.
"This is a heinous crime. I recognize that without some additional incentive the perpetrator or perpetrators may not be brought to justice," said Harris in a statement. "I implore anyone who knows something, anything, that may be helpful to law enforcement to do the right thing and report it."
Those with any information about the crime should call Adams Police at 413-743-1212.
Harris said he was shocked and appalled reading the details of the despicable acts. Such cruel behavior should not be tolerated, whether the victim is a cat, dog or any other living creature.
Harris and his wife, Stacey Carver, have been longtime supporters of vulnerable animals in the community. They have dedicated time and resources to several causes including Berkshire Animal DREAMS, New England Basset Hound Rescue, Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter and others. Carver is a board member for Animal DREAMS and New England Basset Hound Rescue Inc. and Harris is a member of the city of Pittsfield Animal Control Board.
Cleo has recovered from her trauma but is still uneasy around humans. She is seeking a kind and loving home. Find out more about her here. A benefit to offset the costs of Cleo's care is being held by Northern Berkshire Cat Rescue on Feb. 24.