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North Adams Collision Sends One to Hospital

By Rebecca Dravis
iBerkshires Staff
The driver of a pickup involved in a collision on Monday looks over the damage with a police officer.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Police are investigating a two-vehicle accident on East Main Street that occurred around midday on Monday.

The pickup trunk and small sedan collided head-on the curve near the intersection of East Main Street and Summit Avenue.

The driver of the westbound car, heading down the steep street, left the scene fairly quickly but police were reported to be looking to speak to him again.

The driver of the Dodge pickup truck was not injured. The passenger, his wife, was taken away by ambulance but was conscious and talking on the phone.

Neighbors and police said this part of East Main Street has been problematic in the past because it is steep and curvy.

"Bad spot," Officer Ivan Cardeno said at the scene. "It's a bad corner."


North Adams Woman Killed in Single-Car Accident

By Tammy Daniels
iBerkshires Staff

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Police are investigating a fatal accident that occurred at 7 a.m. on Friday morning on West Main Street.

A local woman was killed when she apparently lost control of her Chrysler minivan and crashed into the guard rail, then sheared off a utility pole. The van hit a second pole and came to rest facing north not far from the entrance of Hillside Cemetery.

The name of the driver is being withheld pending notification of kin. She was the only occupant in the vehicle.

The victim has been identified as Deborah Pierce, 56, of Cleveland Avenue.

"She was heading west at a high rate of speed when she lost control," said Police Director Michael Cozzaglio. "Speed was a factor, absolutely, a high rate of speed."

The van's engine was resting next to the second utility; the driver was ejected and found about 10 feet away.

The highway was closed since the accident and traffic has been rerouted over Protection Avenue and Roberts Drive on the west side and Brown Street on the east.

The state police accident reconstruction unit was at the scene along with North Adams Police and Fire, and North Adams Ambulance Service. At the time of posting, the wreck was being cleared by Dean's Quality Auto but the road was going to be closed for awhile longer for National Grid to replace the pole.


Fire Damages Student Apartment Near MCLA

Staff Reports
Fire Director Stephen Meranti investigates a second-floor fire at the Boardman Block.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters made quick work Sunday of a fire in a second-floor bedroom in the Boardman Block.

"When we arrived we found a fire in one of the rooms and it was contained to one room," said Fire Director Stephen Meranti. "At this point, it's under investigation."

The block-long apartment building along Montana Street is regularly occupied by students attending Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

The Fire Department responded to the call at about 4:30 p.m. The fire was contained by 5 p.m. but Montana Street was closed off for nearly two hours as the scene was investigated.

Meranti said at least two people were evacuating the affected apartment when firefighters arrived.

"The police evacuated the whole building and sent them over to [MCLA] dining hall, I believe, and once we checked all the apartments for carbon monoxide we allowed them back in," he said.

Arrangements were made by building's owner for the occupants of the fire-damaged apartment.

The fire appeared to be in unit 45 in the back of the building. Firefighters tossed a burnt office chair out the window to clear the area and a hose was still streaming water out onto the back roof shortly after 5 p.m.

The state fire marshal was called in to investigate the cause.


Firefighters Contain Blaze at North Adams Church

By Tammy Daniels
iBerkshires Staff
The ladder truck from the Adams Fire Department is used to view the roof of the parish hall at All Saints Episcopal Church on Saturday.

Update: The third floor of the parish hall will have to be gutted and restored; water damage also affected the second floor and down into the kitchen, requiring repairs of those areas.

Remediation work on the parish hall began on Monday.

The religious education classes and the nursery on the third floor will be moved into the church for the time being.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters contained a top-floor blaze at All Saints Episcopal Church early Saturday evening.

A box alarm in the building alerted emergency crews at 7:51 p.m. to the fire on the third floor of the attached parish hall.

"When the guys got on scene we had firing showing from the third-floor window," said Fire Director Stephen Meranti. "We immediately called for an all-call to get all firefighters and officers in."

The blaze was under control within a half-hour but it was a couple hours before firefighters began to wrap up the scene.

The cause of the fire has not been determined and the department was keeping a fire watch through the night.

Services and Meals on Wheels deliveries for Sunday have been canceled.

Meranti said Lt. Mike Goodson supervised the response as firefighters stretched the line to the third floor and found the fire in a room off the center hallway.

"The knocked down the fire fairly quickly and it was contained to that one room," he said.

Witnesses said they could see smoke and some flames coming from the parish hall on the west side of the roof. Meranti said there was concern the fire had gotten into the attic but the flames were actually coming out through the small third-floor window.

The Adams Fire Department was called for the use of its ladder truck, just in case. "It's a big building," said Meranti.

The ladder truck was extended to survey the roof of the parish hall. Five firetrucks in all, plus the city's wire and alarm division, police and North Adams Ambulance Service responded to the scene. Summer Street was closed from Ashland Street to the former Kmart parking lot.

No one was in the parish hall at the time of the fire but a meeting being held in the church's basement was cut short. Services had been held in the church a few hours earlier.

Members of the parish council said the third floor contained the nursery and educational classes, which had been renovated in recent years. The rooms had also been painted and new carpet laid down.

The second floor holds the church's library and programming space.

Meranti said there was "extensive damage to the third floor, we have water damage to the building and damage to the fire alarm system."

The church itself, the former St. John's, was not damaged but the building cannot operate without the alarms, said Meranti.

Members of the parish leadership were allowed in to assess the damage, their observations being that it was bad, "but it could be worse."




North Adams Regional Reopens After Bomb Scare

Staff Reports
The North Adams Regional Hospital campus was closed for nearly two hours after a bomb scare on Monday.

Update: Police have charged James Lafleur, 55, of Langlois Avenue, Williamstown, with calling in the threat. Lafleur pleaded not guilty Tuesday and was ordered to seek help at the Brien Center. Williamstown Police arrested him at his home on Monday.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — North Adams Regional Hospital was forced to divert patients for nearly 90 minutes on Monday afternoon after a bomb threat was called in.

Police say they have a suspect and that charges will be filed.

Police Sgt. James Burdick said the hospital received the threat at 1:01 p.m.

"It was taken very seriously by the hospital staff here and taken seriously by the police department, the fire department, and ambulance," said Burdick minutes after the campus reopened at 2:40 p.m. "We set up a command center as we should."

Hospital spokesman Paul Hopkins said earlier that the building and grounds were being checked by emergency personnel.

"The investigation is under way and we don't at this time believe the threat to be credible," Hopkins stated in a press release as the hospital reopened. "We do, however, believe all threats to be very serious."

The hospital instituted its own protocols, including notifying police and staff, and restricting access to the building by patients and visitors. An individual who had an appointment with the imaging department said he was turned away after a police officer told him no was being allowed onto the grounds.

The hospital itself was not evacuated and no one was allowed to immediately leave. Cars began to leave the campus shortly before the restrictions were lifted

"The hospital went by their protocols, we all worked together on it and it was resolved in less than two hours," said Fire Director Stephen Meranti. The director said a similar threat had occurred several years ago.

"Obviously, it tied up considerable manpower and resources," Burdick, who added that police have "developed a possible suspect."

An individual in Williamstown who was interviewed by Williamstown Police, according to scanner reports, admitted to calling the hospital in the morning but denied making a call in the afternoon or making any threats to the hospital. Police did not identify the suspect nor is it clear if it is the person police interviewed.

"There's numerous charges that could possibly be brought forward," said Burdick. "We'll have to wait for the investigation and consult with the district attorney's office on possible charges."

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