Updated Jan. 11 at 10:10 a.m.: Tuesday’s fire at 246-248 Houghton St. has been determined accidental, according to State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey and Fire Chief Stephen A. Meranti.
The fire started in the front bedroom in a top floor apartment (the building is on an incline with apartments on the ground, first and second floor). The cause will remain officially undetermined, as investigators cannot eliminate smoking or a space heater as the specific cause. The space heater itself was too badly damaged in the fire to determine if it malfunctioned. The building is considered a total loss.
Working smoke alarms first alerted the resident to the fire. He attempted to fight the fire himself, which delayed notification to the Fire Department. He suffered minor injuries. No other residents of the six-unit building were injured.
The fire was jointly investigated by the North Adams Fire and Police departments and state police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Dozens of firefighters battled a persistent fire on Tuesday at an apartment building on Houghton Street.
City firefighters were joined by members of the Clarksburg Volunteer and Williamstown fire departments in trying to bring the blaze under control while the Adams Fire Department covered the station with preparations to step in if needed.
It took more than two hours to contain the fire enough for firefighters to attack it from the inside.
"It got a good jump start on us," said Fire Chief Stephen Meranti, pointing to the left side of the building. "This whole side was fully involved and on the third floor, we had fire blowing out all those windows and it extended to the front. ...
"The guys did an excellent job."
The fire chief said the blaze appears to have originated in the second-floor apartment on the left side of the building and extended up into the small, shared attic space, where its spread rapidly.
Firefighters were just entering the building at close to 3:30 p.m. to address the hotspots and begin the investigation.
The call came in at 12:45 p.m. and an all-call was sent out to bring in all shifts to reinforce the five firefighters on duty, then the mutual aid call went out. Houghton Street was blocked from Bracewell Avenue north.
The building at 246-248 Houghton St. sits at the corner of Houghton and Brooklyn streets. It has been owned, through a trust, by the late Charles R. Ransford since 1999.
The structure was known as the Owen Morris House and, according to the city's historical survey, was constructed in 1884, although the city's assessor gives it a date of 1870. It was originally used as a residence and grocery store and built by Morris, who worked at Arnold Print Works. It had four units and a public library branch was located there for about 40 years until closing in 1976.
There are six apartments in the structure now. Meranti said four of the units were occupied at the time of the fire but everyone made it out. According to scanner reports, a family of three and a mother and child were awaiting aid from the Red Cross.
A woman said she'd rushed over when a neighbor had pointed to the smoke pouring out of the building. She was worried about her cousins and their dog, but said they'd been able to flee the building.
Northern Berkshire EMS was on the scene with its rehab trailer. General Manager John Meaney Jr. said there no injuries but several people had been treated for smoke inhalation and referred to the emergency satellite facility.
The hillside structure is three stories on the front and two in the back. Heavy smoke poured into the sky above the building and flames poked through the roof in numerous spots. One firefighter who attempted to gain the second-story deck in the rear was pushed back when flames erupted along the back edge of the building.
The firefighters used a drone operated by department photographer Nicholas Mantello to get a bird's-eye view of the building.
"We could see where the fire was going through the roof, where the heaviest fire was, and direct our lines," Meranti said.
The amount of water being poured on the structure was also affecting households in the area. The city through a Code Red alert advised neighboring areas to Houghton that their water may be brown or low pressure.
He said the main problem was access -- the fire was too heavy for an interior attack or to ventilate the roof and there were power lines on three side of the building, limiting the ladder truck to the Brooklyn Street side.
"The problem was there was so much fire on this side, with the limited manpower that we have, we had to focus completely on this side and we couldn't prevent it from extending to the other side [of the building]," he said. "We really we like to get inside and get the fire from the inside but this one was just too big for us to handle."
It was 3 p.m. before firefighters could get into the building after flooding the roof and directing water into the interior windows.
"We're going to continue pulling ceilings and trying to access the building, we're going to try to get the hotspots and we'll break everything down and investigate it," Meranti said.
He considered the building a total loss and said a fire watch would be at the property through the night.
Goodwill Industries of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont posted in a comment on our Facebook page that tenants of the building can go to the North Adams store on State Street for an emergency voucher to help with clothing, coats, blankets and other essentials. Desperados on Eagle Street is offering a special on wings Tuesday night with all proceeds going to help the building's occupants.
North Adams Sees Two-Car Collision, Pedestrian Accident
While officers were at the River Street accident a call came in for the pedestrian accident at Holden Street.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Two accidents that caused injuries occurred within about an hour of each other late Monday afternoon.
Shortly after 4 p.m., a driver heading west on River Street in a gray Hyundai sedan collided near the carwash with an eastbound Toyota sport-utility vehicle out of New York. According to preliminary reports, the Hyundai's driver was trying to turn off the car's hazard lights and took her eyes off the road and collided with SUV.
One person was being taken by Northern Berkshire EMS to the satellite emergency facility.
The Toyota's front driver's tire assembly was ripped off the vehicle and it sustained significant front-end damage. The Hyundai incurred damage to the front driver's side and door. The vehicles were taken away by Dean's and Cariddi's towing companies. The roadway was closed between the intersection with Houghton Street to Brown Street for almost an hour while the vehicles were removed and vehicle parts cleaned up.
While police and firefighters were dealing with that scene, a pedestrian was struck by a car near the intersection of Holden and Center streets at about 4:40. The woman was walking across Veterans Memorial Way when a eastbound car turned right toward Holden and struck her.
She was taken from the scene by ambulance to the satellite emergency facility, where she was treated and released. The accident is under investigation.
The roadway was partially closed and traffic eastbound over the Veterans Memorial Bridge slowed and directed around the accident by police. Center Street on the west side of Holden was closed.
Also, earlier in the afternoon, another accident occurred in Adams when an extend-cab pickup struck and broke a utility pole head-on on Columbia Street, forcing the road to be closed while the truck was removed and a new pole installed by National Grid.
No further information on these accidents was immediately available.
Motorists Accidentally Drives Over Main Street Median
The roof of the car is scratched up.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — An elderly Vermont woman missed the turn coming out of TD Bank on Main Street and ended up on the wrong side of the road Monday afternoon.
Traffic was diverted around the scene across from the Mohawk Theater for a half-hour or so until the car was taken away. No one was injured but the driver appeared a little shaken.
The woman apparently drove her late model Hyundai Elantra sedan across the eastbound lanes of Main Street and over the median and headed the wrong way in the southernmost lane at about 1:30 p.m.
The small car went under one of the chains strung along the median to deter pedestrian and motor vehicle crossings. One of the posts connected to the chain was tilted and car's roof was scratched up. The car also went up on the median curbing as it traveled east in the westbound lane. Both tires on the driver's side popped as did the front tire on the passenger side.
Police, firefighters and Northern Berkshire EMS responded to the scene and the driver was helped away from the car until a family member could be contacted. Mohawk Auto Wrecking removed the vehicle. Police are looking into the accident.
Two-Car Accident Causes Rollover on West Main Street
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A teenager is facing charges after driving in the wrong lane and causing a rollover accident on West Main Street on Wednesday afternoon.
The occupant of the other vehicle had to be extricated by firefighters and was taken to Berkshire Medical Center's North Adams campus with injuries.
The 17-year-old, whose name has not yet been released, was westbound just before 3 p.m. in a black Honda Civic near Brown Street when he swerved into the eastbound lane. He tried to pull back out, as seen by the tire tracks on the road, but collided with an eastbound Chevrolet Equinox with two occupants.
The Civic's front driver side fender is believed to have struck the back driver's side of the Equinox, ripping off the back tire. The Equinox hit the curb and flipped over, landing on its roof and facing the north side of Hill Side Cemetery. The Civic came to a stop in the westbound lane about 50 feet away.
Firefighters had to use extrication tools to remove the passenger side door to get to one of the occupants in the Equinox. Both the driver and passenger were taken to BMC North by Northern Berkshire Ambulance Service. The driver of the Civic declined transport but was taken to the satellite emergency facility by his father.
Cariddi Auto towed the Civic and Dean's Towing righted and removed the Equinox. The roadway was closed for about a half-hour and traffic was detoured over Brown Street and Roberts Drive.
Woman Struck By Train in North Adams
Update Nov. 7, 2018: The woman struck by the train has been identified as Lindsay Bolte, 29, of North Adams. She incurred serious injuries, including to her leg, but is expected to recover. Two other women were on the trestle with her at the time but were escaped unharmed.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A woman was struck by a train while crossing the trestle near American Legion Drive early Tuesday evening.
According to police, she incurred life-threatening injuries and was taken to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield. Her identity is not being released at this time.
The woman was in a group of three on the trestle as the train approached shortly before 6 p.m. The other two individuals were able to get off in time and were uninjured.
The train reportedly blew its whistle a number of times to alert the group. It reached the little tunnel before stopping. The tracks are owned by Pan Am Railways and freight trains run through the city usually twice a day, once in the morning and again in the evening.
The trestle goes over the Hoosic River and connects the east bank, off American Legion Drive, to the west bank under the Hadley Overpass to Western Gateway Heritage State Park.
Police had blocked off the parking lot by Freight Yard Pub and Christopher Columbus Drive. Yellow tape cordoned off the area next to the tracks on the Heritage Park side. Railway personnel arrived on the scene around 7 p.m.
Further information was not immediately available and the incident is under investigation.
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