NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — An apartment fire at 585 State Road on Wednesday afternoon has left a couple temporarily homeless and shut down traffic on the busy highway for nearly an hour.
The fire was contained to the Apartment B duplex on the second floor but a second apartment with a single occupant suffered smoke damage. No one was injured and all the occupants evacuated safely.
When firefighters arrived they were unsure if there was anybody still in the building. The responders broke into two crews – one to search and the other to extinguish the fire in the second-floor bedroom, according to Fire Director Stephen Meranti.
"We had multiple calls on it so we call in all off-duty personnel," Meranti said. "The guys did a great job knocking it down quickly."
Utilities were also disconnected and firefighters protected the first floor with tarps to prevent water damage.
The building was being checked by Building Inspector William Meranti but was not believed to have suffered any structural damage. A fire watch was being set for the night.
The Red Cross was also called in for assistance.
The road, Route 2, was closed for about an hour between West Liquors and Ashton Avenue, although limited traffic was allowed through.
The fire was reported at 1:15 p.m. by multiple callers, at least one of whom described flames coming out of the building.
While on scene, the department also received calls of an alarm on Frederickson Street and a kitchen fire on Union Street. Wednesday morning the department also responded to a kitchen fire at Mohawk Forest.
A resident reported smelling smoke in the attic before smoke detectors went off, which gave firefighters enough time to prevent a fully involved fire.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — An early morning fire at 170-172 Bracewell Ave. left about 10 people homeless Wednesday despite being snuffed out quickly, according to the Fire Department.
Firefighters were able to prevent the blaze from expanding throughout the old wooden structure but the residents will be displaced until some minor renovations are completed, Fire Department Lt. John Paciorek said Wednesday afternoon.
"It was good that they were that fast. Another few minutes on a balloon-frame structure makes a big difference," Paciorek said on Wednesday. "It was a great stop on their part."
A resident on the second floor of the building that houses two apartments reported the smell of smoke from the attic at about 3:45 a.m. Upon arrival Lt. Joseph Beverly and the city's group C firefighters used thermal imaging to find a fire between the ceiling of the second floor and the attic, according to Paciorek.
All city firefighters were later called in and had to tear up attic floorboard and break windows to prevent the blaze from expanding. There were no injuries, he said.
"Everybody got out safely," Paciorek said. "Which is great considering the time of night."
The building is structurally sound but there is smoke and water damage that will have to be fixed before residents can move back in, he said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation but it does not appear to be suspicious, Paciorek said.
An air truck from the Adams Fire Department assisted on the call and an engine from the Clarksburg Fire Department covered the city's station. Firefighters were on scene for about four hours and then a fire watch unit stayed until about 10 a.m. looking for hotspots.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — It is unknown what will happen with the Eagle Street Music storefront in the wake of the proprietor's recent arrest.
Matthew D. Berger, who opened the music store last month, was arrested last week on charges of distribution of oxycodone and oxymorphone. The store has been closed since and landlord Eric Rudd said he does not know what will become of it.
"I'm less than happy about the situation. They have a lease and so far have not contacted me," Rudd, who was out of the country when the arrest was made, said in an e-mail Friday.
Berger pleaded not guilty last Tuesday to five charges of distribution of a Class B drug after a Berkshire County Drug Task Force investigation that began last December. He was released on $5,000 cash bail.
Rudd said Berger's father signed a lease for the storefront and on Monday the store was still stocked. The store sold music equipment and accessories and the rear of the space, in the flatirion building, was to be used for private music lessons.
Berger had been on the police radar well before the store's opening. Police said they were tipped off that he was selling prescription drugs, and performed a series of controlled buys as well as watched him at the store. He was arrested inside the shop last Monday.
He also faces possession charges in New York state after New York State troopers said they found a pill grinder and straws containing hydrocodone and oxycodone.
Berger was not available for comment as of Monday.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Michelle Alcombright, wife of North Adams Mayor Richard J. Alcombright, was charged with shoplifting two weeks ago in Florida.
Alcombright, 53, was arrested and charged with probable cause of retail theft of more than $300 on Tuesday, March 29, at a shopping plaza in Ruskin, Fla., just outside of Tampa.
According to a report by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, the arrest was made at about 7 p.m. The report doesn't state where the arrest took place other than 3846 Sun City Boulevard, the address of the plaza, which includes a Walmart Supercenter, a Beall's Department Store and a pet supermarket.
She was booked at 10:17 that night and was held until 5 p.m. the next day, when a $2,000 surety bond was posted for her release.
Word of her arrest was posted liberally on the Topix comments section over the weekend and emailed to iBerkshires. Her arrest was one of the top most viewed Sunday on the Tampa page of Whosarrested.com. There had been rumors over the past year of a similar incident at a local Walmart but no facts.
Michelle Alcombright was not at the mayor's re-election launch on Friday and the following reception was hosted by his daughter. We have asked the mayor for a statement.
Update: Mayor Alcombright released this statement on Monday, April 11, 2011, shortly after noon. We are running it in its entirety.
My wife, Michelle, is humiliated, ashamed and hurting deeply, and our entire family is saddened as a result of this recent situation. With that said, we are no different from any other family that struggle with personal issues.
The past two years have been extremely difficult for my wife as she has faced crippling anxiety, severe depression and physical health problems and she is currently in an outpatient program helping her deal with her issues. My interests are embedded in making sure she gets the necessary care to make her well and to become physically and emotionally healthy once again.
I ask the community to allow us to handle this as it should be handled ... as a personal family matter. I will deal with family and personal issues as would any other husband and father.
I will, as I have done for the past 15 months, continue to fulfill my elected responsibilities as mayor and fully hope to continue as I announced last week, to be in this position for two more years.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A small car flipped over on the Mohawk Trail just south of the intersections with Daniels and West Shaft roads closing the trail to traffic.
The driver, Danny Briggs, 29, of West Main Street, was out of the car before emergency vehicles arrived. The accident occurred at about 5:30 p.m. and shut down traffic over the trail for about an hour while the car was removed.
Three police vehicles and two firetrucks responded to the scene.
The car was eastbound when it hit the snowbank near the Chief Motel, careened into the westbound lane and flipped. It came to rest on its top about 100 feet from where it hit the bank.
The vehicle sustained heavy damage, including a smashed in rear window. Parts of were scattered on the road along with items from the car. The vehicle was towed by Mohawk Auto.
Briggs was charged with operating under the influence.