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State Fire Marshal Seeking Info On Lanesborough Garage Fire

Staff Reports
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The state fire marshal is looking for the public's help in determining how a garage fire was started on North Main Street just after midnight Thursday.

Lanesborough Fire Chief Charles Durfee said firefighters responded at 12:16 a.m. to the structure fire at 558 North Main St. The fire was fully involved when they arrived and the chief called for tankers from Hancock, Cheshire and New Ashford fire departments.

It took nearly four hours to extinguish the blaze in the secluded area.

The fire marshal's office, under State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey, is investigating the cause of the blaze and is asking for anyone who heard or saw people or vehicles in the area to call Lanesborough Police at 413-443-4107.

"There was a fire last night in a garage in a remote location off of North Main Street. The building was fully engulfed by the time the fire was noticed shortly after midnight and the Lanesborough Fire Department called. The investigative team is looking for the public's help in determining the cause of the fire. If anyone saw or heard people or vehicles in the  area, or saw the fire in its earliest stages, they are asked to contact the Lanesborough Police," reads a statement from the fire marshal's office.

Any information can help determine exactly where, when, and how the fire started and all calls are confidential. The fire is being investigated by Lanesborough Fire and Police, and state fire police assigned to the office of the state fire marshal.
     

Multiple Berkshire County Schools Subject Of Bomb Threat

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Numerous schools were the target of bomb threats Thursday afternoon triggering responses from police and fire departments.
 
Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn said targets were identified in five communities but he did not reveal which ones. 
 
"There was a timeline given in the call and an indication that the caller would make another call," Wynn said.
 
However, the time elapsed without incident and the individual never called back. Wynn said the caller making the threat was "scratchy" and "difficult to hear."
 
"We're working it an as active case," he said.
 
At least two of those targets were schools. 
 
Both Lanesborough and Lenox have reported that just before 2 p.m. bomb threats were made on the schools. The call were made to Pittsfield Police dispatch.
 
"This afternoon at 1:49 p.m., Lanesborough Elementary School received a notice from the Lanesborough Police Department of a bomb threat identifying several targets throughout Berkshire County including Lanesborough Elementary School. School personnel conducted a thorough search of the building and its perimeter, joined by town police and fire officials. The chiefs of the Lanesborough Police and Fire Departments were on the scene immediately and determined that no students or students were in danger," wrote Lanesborough Principal Martin McEvoy.
 
Police Chief Timothy Sorrell said police and fire initiated its "bomb scare protocol" and ultimately found no threats. Lanesborough Police were notified of the threat around 1:45 and claimed the bomb would go off a half hour later.
 
Cheshire Elementary went into a "soft lockdown," according to a Facebook posting by the Cheshire Police Department because the threat mentioned the Cheshire post office, which is not far from the school.
 
"I want to reiterate that the Cheshire Elementary School was never mentioned in the bomb threat," state the post, presumably by Chief Timothy Garner. "Post office employees were notified and they made their contacts as well."
 
Once the time frame of the threat expired, the school went back to normal.
 
Two schools in Dalton were reportedly included in the threat but neither were evacuated unlike Lenox Memorial Middle and High School.
 
The Berkshire Eagle reported that Lenox Memorial Middle and High School was evacuated because of the threat. That too was found to be unsubstantiated by Lenox police and fire.
 
Principal Michael Knybel told the Berkshire Eagle: "In the interest of student and staff safety and security, we have sent students home early... Our first concern is the safety of our students and we will make every attempt to ensure this matter is thoroughly investigated and safety is restored."
 
 
Updated with information from Cheshire Police.
     

UPDATED: Greylock Federal Branch Robbed at Knifepoint

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Greylock Federal Credit Union branch near the Lanesborough border was robbed Tuesday night.
 
According to Greylock CEO John Bissell, the branch was robbed by knifepoint just before 6 p.m. on Wednesday night. The branch will remain closed until Monday, Jan. 4. 
 
"At about 5:55 p.m. on December 30, the Lanesborough branch of Greylock Federal was robbed. The perpetrator showed a knife and demanded money. In these types of unfortunate circumstances, our number one concern is for the safety of our employees and our Members. We are gratified and relieved that no one was hurt," Bissell wrote. 
 
"We are pleased that all employees reacted in exactly the way they are trained to do.  We appreciate the prompt response of state and local law enforcement and we are cooperating fully with the investigation being conducted by the Pittsfield Police Department. The Lanesborough branch will remain closed on December 31, and will reopen Monday, January 4."
 
The robbery apparently took place just minutes before the regular closing time. The office is located at 1664 North St. and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. 
 
On Thursday Police released photos of the suspect and is asking for help identifying him. The suspect is decribed as a black male, approximately 5'10" tall, around 200 lbs. and between the ages of 25 and 30. He walked from Lakeview Street, entered the bank, displayed a knife, demanded money and then exited back toward Lakeview Street. 
 
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Detective Bureay at 413-448-9705 or email tdawley@pittsfieldpd.org.
     

Lanesborough Fire Extinguishes Second Blaze In Five Days

Staff Reports
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Firefighters extinguished the second fire in the last five days Monday morning.
 
Fire Chief Charlie Durfee said a short in a phone charger at 6:30 a.m. led to a fire in one of the cabins at the Lanesborough Country Inn. Upon arrival, Durfee found heavy smoke coming from the cabin and a small fire in the room. 
 
"No one was in the cabin at the time. No one was hurt," Durfee said.
 
The chief estimates $15,000 worth of damage was caused by the blaze. 
 
The fire is the second one in five days. On Wednesday, a cellar fire on Alice Avenue caused $100,000 worth of damage. In fighting that fire, Dalton, Cheshire, New Ashford and Hinsdale were all called in for mutual aid. 
     

Utility Pole Caught Fire, Cut Power To Mall

Staff Reports
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — A utility pole caught fire Thursday and cut power to the Berkshire Mall.
 
Fire Chief Charlie Durfee said at about 4:30 on Thursday firefighters were called to the Berkshire Mall and found two phases of  the three-phase power system  had popped on the pole. Firefighters extinguished the fire and Eversource was called. 
 
The fire left most of the mall without power forcing the stores to close.
 
"The mall manager was calling the home office to close the mall due to no power," Durfee wrote in an email Thursday evening. "Eversource wasn't sure what happened or how long it would take to fix."
 
The anchor stores were able to open sometime later but the rest of the mall was closed for the evening.
     
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