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Great Barrington Fire Fights House Blaze Twice

Great Barrington Fire Department
Community Submission

The fire left the home's seven residents displaced.

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Firefighters rescued an elderly man from a house fire Saturday afternoon from a two-alarm fire caused by cooking and had to return to the home on Sunday morning after a second fire ignited.

The home owned by Ruby Fuller for 50 years is a total loss. A GoFundMe page has been set up for the retired caretaker and foster parent, who had children living in the house with her. A total of seven people have been displaced.

According to Chief Charles Burger, the department responded on Saturday at 2:51 p.m. to 26 Dresser Ave. on a report of a kitchen stove fire at the two-story, wood frame, single-family home.

Upon arrival, firefighters and police officers, who also arrived on scene, learned that a 76-year-old man was trapped inside. Heavy smoke and flames engulfed the first floor of the home, with extension to the second floor.

Police, with assistance from a firefighter, were able to rescue the man by pulling him out of the house through a first-floor window. The man was then transported by Southern Berkshire Ambulance to Fairview Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

A second alarm was struck as firefighters on Engine 3 made an aggressive attack on the first floor, verifying the remaining six occupants were out of the home, and then extinguishing the blaze 15 minutes later.

Crews from Sheffield, Egremont, Monterey, Stockbridge, and Lenox Fire Departments also responded to assist, along with the Hinsdale Fire Department's rehab truck and the Great Barrington support group, which is made up of wives and mothers of firefighters who provide food and water to crews. Firefighters remained on scene for several hours overhauling the building before clearing the scene around 7 p.m.

One firefighter from Great Barrington suffered non-life threatening injuries, and was treated and released from the hospital later that day.  

Great Barrington firefighters continued to make regular checks of the home throughout the night and into the morning. A half hour after one of their checks, on Sunday, Dec. 12, around 11 a.m., firefighters received a 911 call that the home had once again caught fire.

Upon firefighters' arrival to the scene, they saw that the house was completely engulfed in flames, with fire coming out of every window. The Great Barrington Fire Department and the state fire marshal's office are currently still at the residence putting out hot spots.

The home is completely destroyed. The American Red Cross is working with the seven displaced residents to provide temporary housing.

Additionally, the Multicultural BRIDGE groups is working to provide meals, transportation and services to the family. Residents wishing to help out can donate through the GoFundMe page.

"This is an extremely unfortunate situation, where one family lost their home and all of their belongings in one day," Chief Burger said. "We encourage anyone who can help make this family's holiday as special as always, to please donate."

The origin and cause of the second fire remain under investigation by the Great Barrington Fire Department and state fire marshal's office.

     

Great Barrington Help Another Hiker Off Monument Mountain

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Chief Charles Burger reports that the Fire Department rescued a 60-year-old injured hiker from Monument Mountain on Monday afternoon.

On Aug. 29, at 2:41 p.m. firefighters, along with Southern Berkshire Ambulance, responded to Monument Mountain on a report of a hiker who had fallen on the Squaw Peak trail a short distance from the top. The man had injured his ankle and was unable to walk.

Sheffield and Egremont fire departments were immediately called in for assistance to provide their ATVs and manpower, along with the Western Mass Technical Rescue Team.

The first responding crew found the man, who was hiking the trail with a friend, stable but unable to put weight on his ankle. Because he was at a very steep location on the trail, Great Barrington firefighters rigged a rope system to safely lower him almost 150 feet down the mountain with assistance from the Western Mass Tech Rescue Team. Crews then carried the man a quarter mile to the farthest point ATVs could reach and he was safely secured on the vehicle and transferred off the mountain. The hiker declined medical attention and was transported home by his friend.

In total, about 30 rescue personnel responded to the incident, which took approximately 2 1/2 hours. All crews cleared the scene by 5:30 p.m.

This is Great Barrington’s third rescue involving an injured hiker on Monument Mountain this month. The Great Barrington Fire Department also assisted the Monterey Fire Department on Friday with an injured hiker on the Appalachian Trail in Beartown State Forest.

Monterey and Stockbridge Fire Departments covered additional incidents in Great Barrington during the call, including a vehicle crash where a car caught fire in front of Monument Mountain Reservation that was unrelated to the rescue.

"I would like to thank Great Barrington's firefighters for their hard work, along with the other agencies who have routinely assisted us. It is a strenuous, time consuming job and yesterday's incident demonstrated team work at its best," Burger said. "Thankfully, the man suffered only a minor injury."

     

Rescuers Recover Hiker's Body in Monument Mountain Reservation

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The body of a missing hiker was recovered early Saturday morning from Monument Mountain Reservation after an eight-hour search and four-hour recovery operation.

The hiker was identified as Joan Sussman, age 67, of Ashley Falls. Family members said she was a frequent climber and regularly hiked Monument Mountain.

Fire Chief Charles Burger said the operation began as a rescue after Sussman called in to say she was injured and was at the top of the mountain.

Rescuers from the Great Barrington Fire Department and Southern Berkshire Ambulance were dispatched to the mountain at 3:18 p.m. A GPS ping showed the last known location as Squaw Peak, but the call was soon dropped and subsequent calls by dispatchers and rescuers went unanswered.

Because of the steep and rocky terrain, the Sheffield and Egremont Fire Departments were called in for additional manpower and for the department's additional all-terrain vehicles. The Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team was also activated. No one was found.

Searches along all of the trails proved unsuccessful. A strong thunderstorm rolled through with torrential rain, making hiking more dangerous.

Police K-9 units and the state police arrived on scene later on. The State Police Air Wing was requested but unable to fly because of weather conditions.

She was found at 10 p.m. on a rock cropping and was pronounced dead at the scene.

A delicate recovery operation then began using multiple crews and rope systems in the darkness. The hiker's body was finally removed from the scene at 2:30 a.m. Saturday.

"This is an extremely unfortunate situation. On behalf of the entire community and the Great Barrington Fire Department, I offer my sincerest condolences to the family and friends of the victim," Burger said. "I am very proud of the hard work conducted by our crews, working through the night in poor weather to find and ultimately recover the victim. We wish the outcome was different, however."

The Great Barrington Police and Fire departments, the Sheffield and Egremont fire departments, the state police, the Western Mass. Technical Rescue Team, the Berkshire County sheriff's office, and Southern Berkshire Ambulance all responded. In total, 65 rescuers were on  scene.

Monument Mountain is a popular hiking spot where the Fire Department performs multiple rescues each year. This was the second rescue effort performed in the past week. On Aug. 5, firefighters rescued a 22-year-old hiker who injured her ankle on the mountain.

The Stockbridge and Monterey fire departments provided station coverage for Great Barrington during the incident and responded to several other incidents.

The incident is under investigation by the Police Department.

     

Great Barrington Fire Department Rescues Hiker from Monument Reservation

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GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Chief Charles Burger reports that the Great Barrington Fire Department rescued an injured hiker on Monument Reservation last Friday.

At approximately 11 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 5, members of the Fire Department's technical rescue team responded to Monument Reservation for reports of a 22-year-old woman with an injured ankle.

Upon arrival, rescuers determined that the hiker was stuck on a steep hill, and the Western Mass Technical Rescue team, along with the Sheffield Fire Department's ATV and Rescue Sled, were called to assist.

Rescuers hiked for approximately 45 minutes to reach the victim, carrying extensive medical and rescue equipment. The victim, who had slipped while hiking with her dog, was found in stable condition but in severe pain from a broken ankle. Medics from South Berkshire Ambulance treated her injuries.

Firefighters rigged rope systems to lower the victim in a Stokes basket (rescue stretcher) down a steep, rocky section of trail. She was then carried a half mile to a Sheffield Fire Department ATV specifically designed to carry the rescue stretcher.

Firefighters and rescue officials completed the rescue around 1:30 p.m. The hiker was transported to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield for further evaluation.

"These operations always take an extended period of time to ensure that the victim and all crew members get out of the situation safely," Burger said. "I would like to thank everyone who worked hard to make this a successful rescue, including the incredible help from other responding agencies."

Southern Berkshire Ambulance, Sheffield Fire Department, the Western Mass Technical Rescue Team, and a county fire coordinator were on scene to assist.

The Western Mass Technical Rescue Team is run by Western Mass Fire Chiefs and covers Berkshire, Hamden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. Firefighters from Great Barrington, Lenox, Pittsfield, Dalton, and North Adams staff the Berkshire County Division.

     

Great Barrington Firefighters Douse Blaze in Historic Railroad Street Block

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Firefighters battled a one-alarm fire late Thursday night that threatened to destroy a downtown landmark.

Fire Chief Charles Burger said firefighters responded just after 11 p.m. to Martin's Restaurant, 49 Railroad St., where they found fire in a first-floor kitchen of a two-story downtown block with attached exposures.

Police Officer Chad Shimmon was on the scene discharging an extinguisher through an open window, which helped slow the fire growth. The second-floor apartment was searched to verify it was unoccupied. The first engine on scene was able to quickly control the fire while additional crews checked for extension, ventilated and performed salvage operations.

Fire damage was limited to the first-floor kitchen, though there was smoke and heat damage throughout the restaurant. Second-floor tenants were able to return to their apartment after firefighters ventilated the residence.

The popular restaurant owned by Martin Lewis is open from early morning to late afternoon.

Twenty-one firefighters from Great Barrington responded to Thursday night's fire. The department was assisted on scene by the Lenox Fire Department's Rapid Intervention Team, Great Barrington Police and National Grid. Southern Berkshire Ambulance, along with the Fire Department's Support Group, were on scene providing firefighter rehab. Sheffield Fire covered Great Barrington's fire station.

"I am proud of the quick work done by our department last night," Burger said in a statement. "I would also like to thank all the agencies who assisted us. We were able to save a downtown landmark in Great Barrington."

The business is insured. The cause is under investigation, but is not considered suspicious.

     
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