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Two-Car Accident Detours Traffic in North Adams

Staff Reports
iBerkshires Staff

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A two-car accident on West Main Street backed up traffic around West Main, Brown and River streets on Thursday afternoon.

According to police a late model black Ford Focus was headed west on West Main when it stopped for a bus in front of it. A white Honda Accord with New York plates apparently did not notice the Ford stopping and plowed into the back of it.

No one was hurt in the accident and the airbags in the Honda went off.

The accident occurred around 3 p.m. just east of Grimes Street. The roadway was limited to one lane and westbound traffic was allowed through and eastbound detoured over Brown Street. The cars were towed from the scene around 3:30 and the road reopened shortly after.
 

     

North Adams Police Searching for Armed Robbery Suspect

Staff Reports
iBerkshires.com
The suspect in an armed robbery at Cumberland Farms was caught on video.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A man armed with a black and silver handgun robbed the Cumberland Farms on Union Street (Route 2) on Wednesday night.

Police say the suspect walked through the front door of convenience store at about 11:33 p.m. and told the clerk to give him all the money. The clerk put the till on the desk and the suspect grabbed the cash and fled.

The suspect is being described as possibly a white or Hispanic male. He was wearing a black and white skull mask, black basketball shorts with a lighter stripe down the side, a black hooded sweat shirt that was inside out and dark colored basketball sneakers.

He may be associated with a small silver sedan.

The city and state police are investigating the armed robbery and anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the North Adams Detective Bureau at 413-662-3105.

     

Missing North Adams Man's Body Found Bronx

Staff Reports
Police are investigating the death of Joshusa Bressette as a homicide.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The body of a missing North Adams man has been discovered in Bronx, N.Y.

The death Joshua S. Bressette is being investigated as a homicide, according to Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless.

Bressette was last seen by friends in the city on Monday, May 5, and his information was entered into a law enforcement missing persons database.

According to Capeless, members of the Berkshire County Law Enforcement Task Force were contacted Wednesday by New York Police Department homicide detectives.

NYPD investigators indicated they found the body of an unidentified man matching Bressette's description in the Bronx.

The body was positively identified Thursday morning.

According to numerous reports from New York City news sources, the body of a man fitting Bressette's description, including a full skeleton tattoo on his torso, was found with gunshot wounds to the head and back atop a roof in the Gun Hill housing project in the Bronx last Thursday night, May 8.

There was reportedly heroin on the body but no ID. The six 13- and 14-story Gun Hill projects buildings on Magenta Street house more than 1,500 people.

Members of the task force are assisting New York detectives with the investigation.

     

North Adams Police Seeking Missing City Man

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Police are seeking the whereabouts of Joshua S. Bressette, 25, who has been missing since Monday, May 5.

Bressette requires a well-being check and may be in danger.

He was last seen in the city between 3 and 4 p.m. on Monady at the Price Chopper parking lot on State Road.

He is about 5-foot-7, 140 pounds and has brown hair and blue eyes. He has a number of distinctive tattoos, including "Live Fast Die Young" and a star with an eye on his neck; the Star of David on his right elbow; and a skeleton on his right side of his torso.

He usually wears dark clothes, knit cap and glasses.

Anyone with information on Bressette or has seen him since Monday afternoon, is asked to contact the Police Department at 413-664-4944. Anonymous tips can be made to the detective's bureau at 413-662-3105, Ext. 4210.
 

     

North Adams Apartment Fire Displaces 20 People

By Tammy Daniels
iBerkshires Staff
Amanda Beckwith is reunited with one of her cats. Beckwith lives in the apartment below where the fire broke out. More photos can be seen here.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — About 20 people were temporarily homeless after a fire broke out early Thursday afternoon on the fourth floor of a Furnace Street apartment building.

Damage was limited to one side the eight-unit building at 132-146 Furnace St.; no was injured.

Fire Chief Stephen Meranti said it was possible the tenants in the four units on the south side of the building could return home by the end of the day, depending on the health inspector's approval.

"It's under investigation right now with the North Adams Police and Fire Departments," he said. The fire marshal's office had not been called so far. "It doesn't appear to be suspicious. We're going to do our thing and then if we need to call them, we will."

The building has a commanding view of the city's downtown and smoke could be seen from Main Street pouring from the top of building.

"Leaving the station, we could see the smoke, we called for all off-duty firefighters," said Meranti. "We got on the scene found fire on the rear porch in the roof area. ... It had extended into the attic space."

At about noon, neighbors noticed smoke and flames on the decking on the eastern side of the building. All of the occupants home at the time escaped unharmed.

"I heard crackling and then I smelled something a minute or two later ...  it was a plasticy kind of burning smell," said Amanda Beckwith, who lives in the apartment directly below where the fire started. "Then I looked out the window and saw fire [in the decking above] ... we ran out."

Beckwith, a photographer, ran back in to grab her camera. By the time she realized the seriousness of the situation, the fire trucks had arrived and she was unable to get back in to rescue her cats. By mid-afternoon, two of her pets had been removed unharmed but a three more were still inside.

Animal Control Officer Carrie Loholdt was on the scene to assist with pet recovery.

Fire trucks maneuvered the steep street to get in front of the structure and a ladder truck was used to reach and break through the roof to combat the blaze.

"We had to make sure we kept the front of the building open so we could move the ladder truck in here," Meranti said, explaining some of the difficulties in accessing the building, which is three stories on Furnace but four stories and a steep lawn facing Francis Street below.

"It's very labor intensive to fight a fire in a building like this. The guys took a real beating on this one," he said. "They did a great job getting here quickly the way they did and getting the water on it.  We prevented it from extending to the other apartments."

The Furnace and Francis streets were closed down as firefighters from the city, Adams and Clarksburg brought it under control it. North Adams Ambulance Service was on scene to provide recovery services for firefighters and Williamstown Fire Department was covering the station.

Neighbors and occupants of the building watched from Francis Street as burning shingles fell to the lawn and water poured down.

"The heat and the fire are trapped in the attic, so it's building, accelerating in the attic," said Meranti. "By opening the hole in the roof, you're directing the fire to where you want it to go.    

"So it's not extending horizontally, it's extending the fire vertically so we can get in there and get it from underneath."
 
Meranti said firefighters were successful in doing that, which prevented the blaze from reaching the apartments on the south side. The fire damage was contained to the top apartment in the northeast corner; the apartments below it suffered smoke and water damage.

The gas and electric were shut off but the owner's electrician was going to see if the power could be restored to separate units.

Nichole Bushey, who lives in the apartment where the fire started with her boyfriend, George Sawtelle, said she lost everything. Both she and Sawtelle were at work when the fire started; a friend and neighbor called to tell them what had happened.

Bushey said she'd lived in the building for about a year, but it was the second time a fire had left her homeless. She'd been living in the apartment building on Washington Avenue when it burned down around 2006.

The building's owner Charles Swabey, who owns multiple properties in the city, was confident the building was salvageable: "It's going to be around for a long time."

He said he loved the architecture of the house, which is notable for the number of wrap-around porches and balconies.  

"I bought it in 2003, it was one of the first ones we bought," he said.

Seven of the eight units were occupied and about 20 people were living in the structure. The Red Cross had been contacted.

Update: complete rewrite with comments from fire chief at 4:30 p.m.

 

     
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