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North Adams Man Killed, 2 Injured in Route 8 Crash

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Route 8 was closed for some time on Sunday morning after a
three-vehicle collision near Farnams Road. 
Update: Anthony Emard, 61, of North Adams has been identified as the fatality in Sunday morning's three-vehicle crash on Route 8. 
 
According to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office, the other two individuals involved in the accident are 29-year-old Trever Field and 37-year-old Michael Taylor, both of Adams. 
 
Field was driving the Jeep Grand Cherokee that state police said tried to pass a Mustang, driven by Taylor. As Emard's Hyundai approached in the northbound lane, Field pulled back into his southbound lane and hit the rear bumper of the Mustang, say authorities, that caused it to spin out.
 
The Hyundai was struck by one of the vehicles and rolled over. The crash is still under investigation. 

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Original post 12:48 p.m., Oct. 20, 2019; CHESHIRE, Mass. — A North Adams man was killed early Sunday morning in collision involving three vehicles on Route 8 near Farnams Road. 

 
The 61-year-old victim was driving a 2009 Hyundai Accent north at about 7:11 a.m. when it rolled over after being hit by the other two vehicles. He was pronounced dead at the scene and the other two drivers were taken to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield with "serious injuries."
 
According to state troopers from the Cheshire barracks, a preliminary investigation has revealed that a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee, driven by a 29-year-old man from Adams, was southbound behind a 1997 Ford Mustang, driven by a 37-year-old man, also from Adams. 
 
The driver of the Jeep began passing the Mustang at the same time the Hyundai was approaching in the northbound lane. The Jeep apparently tried to pull back into the southbound lane but struck the Mustang, which then caused both vehicles to strike the Hyundai, causing it to rollover.
 
The remaining facts and circumstances remain under investigation by state police, including the Detective Unit assigned to the Berkshire County District Attorney's Office. Troop B Headquarters and the Crime Scene Services Section and Collision Analysis Reconstruction Section team, Cheshire Fire Department, Pittsfield Fire Department, Lanesborough Police and Fire Departments, and the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, all assisted on scene.
 
No further information is currently available.
     

Propane Tank Explosion in Cheshire Destroys Property

By Jeff Snoonian
iBerkshires Correspondent
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — A propane tank explosion rocked Lake Shore Drive on Friday night at about 8. Miraculously, there were no injuries but the recreational vehicle and adjacent structure are a total loss. 
 
Occupant David Willett said he was fortunate to get out unharmed.
 
"I was up watching TV and smelled a weird odor," he said on Saturday at the scene. "I got out of there and called 911."
 
Two minutes later the propane tank exploded. 
 
Lake Shore Drive is a dead-end road off Lanesborough Road, not far from the Route 8 intersection. The lane runs down the center of a small, curving peninsula into Cheshire Reservoir. 
 
The conflagration could be seen from the north end of the lake where residents gathered in the lake access parking lot to watch. 
 
According to the Cheshire Fire Department, firefighters were dispatched at 8:06 p.m. for a report of a fully involved house fire with propane tank explosions. The first engine company on arrival reported heavy fire showing from an RV that was parked directly next to a residence. The residence was also on fire.
 
Several propane tanks exploded while firefighters were battling the blaze, according to the statement by Cheshire Fire. The investigation by Chief Thomas Francesconi and a trooper with the State Police Fire Investigative Unit has determined the fire is not suspicious "and appears to be the result of a mechanical malfunction."
 
Members were on scene until 3 a.m. Saturday. Chief Francesconi thanked the Adams, Lanesborough, Savoy and Dalton fire departments for their assistance at the scene and covering the station, as well as Adams Ambulance Service,  Cheshire Police and utility crews.
 
Willett has been in contact with his sister and brother, who are on their way with clothes and supplies as everything he owned was lost — including the bike he uses to get to work. He wanted everyone to know that he is OK and very lucky.
 
He said Cheshire Fire will continue monitoring the situation Saturday as a precaution.
     

Bennington College Fire Causes $250K in Damages

Staff Reports
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BENNINGTON, Vt. — A fire on Tuesday afternoon caused $250,000 worth of damage to a building at Bennington College.
 
According to state police, the fire was reported at about 1 p.m. at the North Bennington campus from the administrative offices. The staff was alerted to the fire by a contractor who was performing work on the outside of the building. 
 
The North Bennington Fire Department was alerted and responded to the scene. Because of the amount of smoke and fire upon arrival, additional assistance was requested and members of the following departments responded: Bennington, Bennington Rural and Shaftsbury and New York State's Hoosick Falls and North Hoosick. 
 
Bennington College security and firefighters were able to evacuate everyone safely and firefighters were able to prevent extensive damage or spread of the fire. No injuries were reported.
 
North Bennington Fire Chief Keith Cross requested the assistance of the state Department of Public Safety's Fire and Explosions Investigation Unit to assist in confirming the origin and cause for the fire. Members of this team immediately responded to examine the scene.
 
The investigators were State Police Det. Sgt. Steven Otis and Assistant State Fire Marshal Tim Angell of the Division of Fire Safety. 
 
As a result of the examination, this fire is being classified as accidental. There were two potential electrical causes: one is the general state of the wiring in the very old farm building that had been converted to office space and the second, the ongoing contractual work that had been on the exterior of this building for the past two weeks included nailing replacement siding and door and window trim.
 
The fire originated on the interior of the walls on the east side of the building and extended through the balloon-frame construction and into the attic/crawl space, which was extensively damaged. There had been electrical issues reported during the day by staff that included flickering lights and a humming or beehive like sounds coming from the exterior wall.
 
Otis and Angell recommended that when you experience an electrical anomaly or hear strange sounds coming from within a wall that has electricity running through it that you contact an electrician, building maintenance or electrical engineer to diagnose any possible issues. This could save lives and or prevent extensive damage to the structure. These issues can often be isolated simply by shutting off the breaker to an affected area until it can be properly diagnosed or inspected.
 
     

Cheshire Fire Blamed on Heating System; Structure a Total Loss

By Jack Guerino
iBerkshires Staff
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The building burned to the ground. 
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The fire that destroyed a local business is believed to have started in an attached garage.
 
Fire Chief Thomas Francesconi said the blaze that razed the former Kubota dealership last week likely started from the heating system. 
 
"The Mass State Fire Marshal's office did investigate the scene the following day. The cause of the fire is officially listed as undetermined, however, both myself and the investigating marshal believe the fire started with the heating system in the garage area," Francesconi said. "This was the area of origin for the fire."
 
The fire burned the building to the ground the night of Jan 4 during a blizzard that blew through the county with extremely cold temperatures and forceful winds. The property had been purchased some months before by J. Richardson Contracting. One of the company's vans was parked in the garage.
 
The Fire Department received the call a little before 7:30 p.m. but because of the snowy condition of the sparsely traveled road the first arriving engine went off the road and the second engine lost all electric once arriving on scene and could not flow water.
 
Francesconi said the structure is a total loss.
 
"The fire already had a very firm hold on the building prior to the fire being observed then called in," he said. "Due to the weather and the remoteness of the location, the area is not heavily traveled so the fire had an opportunity to build and progress at a very high rate."
 
Even getting water to the site was a challenge and five tanker trucks were shuttling water from Hoosac Valley High School. This trip took at least 20 minutes.
 
Mutual aid was needed from surrounding communities.  Adams sent an engine while the Adams Forest Wardens, Savoy and Lanesborough departments sent tankers. Dalton Fire Department also responded.
 
The Cheshire Highway Department was able to return the engine that went off road to the road.
     

Firefighters Battle With Difficult Blaze At Cheshire Business

By Tammy Daniels & Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — Firefighters battled a difficult blaze that destroyed a Windsor Road business Thursday night.

The Fire Department received a call at 7:21 p.m. of a garage fire as a blizzard swept through the region with frigid temperatures and gusty winds. Upon arrival, the former Kubota dealership was already heavily engulfed in flames.

"Our initial responders reported heavy fire from the garage spreading to the service area. We had a full response. Our first arriving engine went off the road, into a snow bank. Our second engine, when he got here, had electrical issues and lost all electric. We couldn't even flow water," Fire Chief Thomas Francesconi said.

The structure was recently purchased by J. Richardson Contracting. Francesconi said later in the evening that the cause was not yet known but appeared to have begun in the garage area based on initial reports. 

The initial responding officer had called immediately for mutual aid from multiple towns. Adams sent an engine while the Adams Forest Wardens, Savoy and Lanesborough departments sent tankers. Dalton Fire Department also responded.

Cheshire got its engine back in service with help from the Highway Department.

"Fortunately for us, our Highway Department was right on the ball. Our engine went off the side of the road and into the snow and they pulled our engine out," Francesconi said.

The former dealership is about three miles off Route 116, and the wind fueled and blew the blaze from the garage and into the former showroom area.

"If the wind wasn't so bad, it wouldn't have taken over on us so bad," the chief said.

The wind had not only fueled the blaze, but the fire also had a head start on responders. The building is on a infrequently traveled, narrow road, and by the time the department arrived it was "50 percent" involved.

"It is not a heavily traveled road, especially during a storm. You can go 10 minutes without seeing a car so nobody would know there was even a fire," Francesconi said.

One of the town's highway crew was plowing on Wells Road when he heard the call. He immediately headed to the scene and said the walls of the building were already collapsing. 

The firefighters struggled to get enough water to contain the scene. The flames towered high into the air while five tanker trucks were shuttling water from Hoosac Valley High School -- a trip that was taking at least take 20 minutes. Tankers from the three neighboring towns and from Cheshire shuttled water to the scene until the Hoosac Valley hydrants froze over. There are no hydrants in that area of Windsor Road.

When the wind whipped up, it sent billows of smoke, snow and sparks across the snow-covered yard.

Hinsdale Fire sent its rehab bus and North Adams Ambulance provided rehab on site and firefighters were routinely checking in to be safe. It could not put up its large tent because of the wind. Adams Ambulance also responded to the scene.

     
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