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Bedroom Blaze Snuffed Out

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters swiftly knocked down a second-floor fire at a home on Goodrich Street shortly before noon on Wednesday. The cause of the blaze had not been determined by early this afternoon.

"We thought it might have gotten into to the attic space but we were able to contain it pretty quickly," said Fire Director Stephen Meranti, who credited firefighters' swift response with preventing its spread. "The guys did a great job."

Smoke was seen coming out of a second-story bedroom on the south side of the building by Postal carrier David Ghidotti, who was delivering mail along his route, said Meranti. He said Ghidotti's immediate reporting of the smoke likely helped prevent the fire from spreading.

The fire director said smoke could be seen coming from the windows on arrival; all off-duty firefighters were called in, Adams responded with the Scot AirPak truck and Clarksburg went on standby.

The fire damage was contained to the bedroom and closet area, although the second story suffered smoke damage and the first floor water damage. Firefighters mitigated some of the first floor damage by pulling tarps over the furniture.

The large white house had been split into apartments at one point but is now being occupied as a single-family home. It is owned by Kenneth and Kristi Cooper.

Meranti said the Coopers would not be able to stay in the house Wednesday because power and utilities had been shut off. The health inspector was to inspect the building to see if it could be occupied.

Firefighters were still on the scene several hours after the blaze was snuffed, waiting for a fire marshal to arrive. Meranti said he had requested the marshal to help determine the cause.

Tags: fire, house      

Hinsdale Snuffs Out Mobile Home Blaze

Staff Reports

A heater located underneath a mobile home is suspected as the cause of a fire on Monday night.

The Hinsdale Volunteer Fire Department responded in last night's bitter cold temperatures to a reported house fire at 8:19 p.m. Arriving firefighters were confronted with a fire in the crawl space underneath a mobile home at 9 Alice Drive occupied by the Reed family.

Significant fire damage was contained to the area under the home and there was light smoke damage to the interior of the building. The fire was under control within 15 minutes.

Fire Chief Larry Turner said the probable cause was the use of a propane heater underneath the dwelling.

A female resident of the home who re-entered the building to retrieve family pets before firefighters arrived was evaluated and treated at the scene for the affects of smoke by Hinsdale Ambulance staff.

Firefighters from the Peru and Becket volunteer fire departments assisted Hinsdale at the scene while Dalton firefighters provided standby coverage at the Hinsdale Fire Station.

Information provided by the Hinsdale Volunteer Fire Department.

Tags: fire, house      

Two-Alarm Blaze Guts North Adams Home

Andy McKeever

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A two-alarm blaze gutted a two-story State Road home on Monday afternoon leaving four people homeless.

A Facebook page has been set up to coordinate help and raise funds for the two couples, who lost everything in the blaze.

According to Fire Director Steve Meranti, firefighters were called to the apartment building at the corner of Protection Avenue and State Street around noon after an off-duty police officer reported heavy smoke and shooting flames.

All off-duty firefighters were called to the scene, where heavy winds spread the fire throughout nooks and crannies on the topmost floors, he said. The fire built up in the ceiling and firefighters needed to call for backup.

Firefighters had to break through the roof of State Road home to battle a blaze that gutted the structure.

"The wind contributed considerably," Meranti said. "It was a tough one. The guys took a wicked beating."

Additional difficulty came because the department was restricted by power lines on Protection Avenue and National Grid had to disconnect power.

Firefighters removed the building's roof to get at the blaze in the attic. The home was vacant when the fire was reported and no one was injured.

"It's a total loss on the second and third [attic] floors," Meranti said. "Everybody has been accounted for."

There are two apartments housing two people in each, according to Meranti. The fire appeared to have begun in a second-floor bedroom, he said.

"I don't remember being at a fire that big since I was a kid," Mayor Richard Alcombright said, who was at the scene.

The fire closed traffic on Route 2 between Protection Avenue and Roberts Drive for more than two hours. Motorists were detoured over Massachusetts Avenue.

Adams Fire Department also assisted on the scene and Clarksburg Fire Department was on standby in the city's station. The cause of the fire is not yet known and investigation will continue on Tuesday when the fire marshall arrives to the scene.

"It does not appear to be suspicious but we haven't ruled anything out yet," Meranti said.

Firefighters remained on the scene Monday night to watch for hotspots.

Tags: fire, house      

Basement Fire Damages Clarksburg Home

Staff Reports

Photo by Seth Shepard
Emergency vehicles blocked Middle Road for about an hour on Monday afternoon as firefighters doused a basement fire at 96 Middle Road.

 CLARKSBURG, Mass. — A smoky basement fire on Monday damaged a home on Middle Road not far from the town border with North Adams.

Firefighters from Clarksburg and Stamford, Vt., responded to an apparent electrical fire at 96 Middle Road at about 4:30. Witnesses said smoke could be seen pouring from the back of the building.

Emergency vehicles blocked the road for about an hour as they contained the blaze. Pumper trucks used the small pond across the street from the gray house to send water shooting into the back yard.

Firefighters had to cut through the back wall near the rear entrance to get to the blaze, which was doused within a half-hour. North Adams Ambulance also responded but no one was reported injured. No further information was immediately available.


Tags: fire, house, electrical      

Police Probe Suicide, Arson Case

Staff Reports

POWNAL, Vt. — A Pownal man apparently set fire to his home before killing himself on Wednesday night.

State police and the office of the chief medical examiner are investigating the death of Hans J. Schiermeyer, 53, of 519 State Line Drive. Schiermeyer's death is believed to have been the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound that occurred during the evening of June 2.

Schiermeyer's body and a firearm were found by firefighters battling the blaze at the single-family home off Route 7 near the Massachusetts border.

The fire was reported at about 9:30 p.m. and firefighters found the home completely engulfed, according to state police. Nobody else was discovered at Schiermeyer's home, which was completely destroyed by fire.

According to Det. Sgt. Robert Patten: "Shortly before the reported fire, Schiermeyer's wife contacted state police, seeking an escort to her home. Schiermeyer's wife conveyed that while returning from an out-of-country trip, Schiermeyer had threatened in a telephone conversation that he was going to set their house on fire and kill himself in the process."

An autopsy was to be conducted Thursday.

Pownal firefighters were reportedly aided by Bennington and Williamstown, Mass., fire departments.

Schiermeyer had been a pilot for the Steiner family in Williamstown at one time. He held an airline transport pilot license, the highest rated license for a pilot, and was given a second class medical rating in December.

A native of Rietberg, Germany, he had become an avid skydiver in recent years. On his profile on Skydivernetwork.com, he describes his relationship status as "It's complicated."

Tags: fire, house, gunshot, suicide      
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