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Great Barrington Fire Douses Blaze at Mill Complex


Embers from burning brush caused the roof of the structure to catch fire.
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The Great Barrington Fire Department extinguished a fire at an abandoned mill building on Saturday afternoon, the second fire in a week caused by embers igniting during dry weather. 
 
Just after noon, the department was dispatched for a roof fire behind the Housatonic Fire Station (Great Barrington Station 2), according to Chief Charles Burger.
 
Crews quickly confirmed that the roof of the abandoned Power House Mill — a 200-foot by 100-foot masonry building with 50-foot ceilings that's part of the Monument Mills complex — was on fire. The building is located at 174 Front St.
 
Firefighters arrived on scene within minutes and began attacking the fire. The department's 100-foot tower ladder was needed to access the fire because of the height of the building.
 
The fire was quickly brought under control and contained to the roof of half the structure, and crews cleared the scene by 2:30 p.m. The Stockbridge Fire Department assisted on scene, the Lenox Fire Department sent a Rapid Intervention Team and the Sheffield Fire Department provided station coverage.
 
An investigation by the Fire Department indicated that the owner of the mill was burning brush about 75 feet from the building and the embers caught the building's roof on fire.
 
Saturday's fire is the second that occurred in Great Barrington this week. At noon on Monday, April 10, firefighters responded to a porch fire at 18 Sumner St. It was contained to the porch and the house remained inhabitable. An investigation determined that the fire began from a cigarette disposed of in the mulch next to the porch.
 
"Is it extremely important that community members remember to properly dispose of smoking material and monitor brush fires, especially as we head into warmer, dryer weather," Burger said. "As we've seen this week, anything with embers can easily start a fire." 
     

Great Barrington Police Investigating Bank Robbery; Suspects Arrested

Update: Eric J. Sheridan, 36, of Connecticut and a woman, Rachelle Winter, 30, of East Providence, R.I., were arrested Wednesday after allegedly being involved in a bank robbery in Fall Village in the town of Canaan, Conn.
 
Both suspects are being treated at Sharon ( Conn.) Hospital after crashing their 2014 red Fiat 500, the same vehicle seen fleeing from Monday's robbery of Salisbury Bank in Great Barrington.
 
Sheridan had allegedly passed a note to a teller at Salisbury Bank demanding money. He then fled with an undisclosed amount of cash in the Fiat, which has Rhode Island plates
 

Posted Feb. 15 at 2:31 p.m.: GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Police have issued an arrest warrant for a suspect allegedly involved in a bank robbery that occurred Monday at Salisbury Bank & Trust Co.

 
Eric James Sheridan, 36, of Danielson, Conn., is wanted on charges of unarmed robbery and larceny more than $250. 
 
On Monday, Feb. 13, Great Barrington Police responded to Salisbury Bank, 210 Main St., for a report of a robbery.
 
Upon arrival, officers were informed that a man, later identified as Sheridan, entered the bank and passed a note to a teller demanding money. Sheridan then fled with an undisclosed amount of cash in a red 2014 Fiat 500 with Rhode Island license plates, according to police.
 
Chief William Walsh said police are continuing to search for a second suspect who is believed to have been a passenger in the vehicle. 
 
Although no weapon was shown during the robbery on Feb. 13, Sheridan should be considered armed and dangerous. 
 
This investigation is being conducted by Great Barrington Police and the Berkshire County Law Enforcement Task Force, including state police detectives assigned to the Berkshire County district attorney's office. 
 
Anyone who has information regarding this incident, or who may have seen anything suspicious in the area at the time of the robbery, should immediately contact Great Barrington Police at 413-528-0306.
 

Posted Monday, Feb. 13, 8:31 p.m.: GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Chief William Walsh reports that the Police Department is investigating a bank robbery that occurred Monday afternoon.


Police responded at about 3:30 p.m. to the Salisbury Bank branch on Main Street. Upon arrival, officers were informed that a man entered the bank and passed a note to a teller demanding money. The suspect fled with a quantity of cash southbound on Route 7.

Police believe that a second suspect was waiting for him in a getaway vehicle.

The primary suspect is described as a white man in his late 20s or early 30s, between 5-foot-7 and 5-foot-9, with a thin build, weighing about 150 pounds. He was wearing sunglasses and a gray sweat shirt.

No weapon was shown, and no one was injured.

The Great Barrington Police Department is investigating the incident with assistance from the state police.

If anyone saw anything suspicious in the area, they are urged to call Great Barrington Police at 413-528-0306.

     

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.

     
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