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Cariddi Auto Sales Burns
By: Andy McKeever On: 08:48PM / Thursday January 27, 2011

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Curran Highway was shut down for hours Thursday night as firefighters battled a massive blaze at Cariddi Auto Sales.

Flames could be seen shooting through the roof as city firefighters fought freezing temperatures to extinguish the fire.

The nearby hydrants were frozen and tanker trucks from Adams, Clarksburg and Florida shuttled in water. The regulators were freezing and had to be thawed by a propane heater. The hoses needed constant water being pushed through to avoid freezing.

Adams also provided it's air-pack truck and Clarksburg covered the North Adams station.

"It was a real tough one to fight," said Fire Director Stephen Meranti. "The regulators were freezing, the lines were freezing, the men were freezing."

One firefighter was taken to North Adams Regional Hospital with smoke inhalation and another was taken for a shoulder injury.

Meranti said it is too early to tell what caused the fire but it began in the roof at the center of the building. The dealership used to be a carwash and had multiple layers of roofing that hindered the firefighter's efforts, Meranti said.

The south side of the building remains mostly intact but the north side is a total loss, Meranti said.

"There were some flammable substances in the building that we were concerned about," Meranti said.

Firefighters cut through the roof to get at the fire and heavy smoke continued to billow out until 11 p.m. The building will be monitored through the night for hot spots.

Mayor Richard Alcombright said firefighters responded to the fire at shortly after 7 p.m. National Grid arrived on the scene at about 8 p.m. to turn off the power.

State Street was closed off at the intersection with Main Street. Police were allowing limited access to the area. Traffic was also being detoured at Hodges Cross Road. Firefighters left the scene just after 11 p.m. and the road was reopened.

The fire gave the North Adams Ambulance Service its first chance to deploy its new rehab trailer. A tent with a propane heater for emergency personnel to treat firefighters and provide a central meeting spot, warmth and refreshments, was attached to the medical trailer.

"This is the first deployment of the rehab trailer. It's been in the works for a couple of months," North Adams Ambulance Safety Officer Amalio Jusino said. "We had the trailer for some time and we just decided to get creative and see if we can be more helpful to the fire department."

Jusino and Lt. Lynn Richardson manned the trailer all evening, taking vital signs and examining firefighters.

"Being proactive is better than being reactive," Jusino said.

The rehab trailer is designed for both winter and summer conditions and complies with the National Fire Protection Agency standards. The service is looking to purchasing a misting fan for the summer.

Cariddi Sales is a small dealership of used autos across from the intersection of the highway and Old State Street, just north of Walmart at 676 Curran Highway. Its hours of operation on weekdays is until 5:30; it's not clear if anyone was on the site at the time of the fire.

The property has been owned by Guy R. Cariddi since at least 1984, when he and his father, the late Francis Cariddi, bought out Ralph Cariddi and Robert Bissaillon, who had been in partnership with Francis Cariddi, according to the Registry of Deeds.

The property has a two-bay service garage and office. The dealership also offers autobody work, towing and service. The cars in the yard have not been removed. 

A fire at Cariddi Auto Sales destroyed the office and service garage on Thursday night. At least one firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation as emergency crews battled the blaze in freezing temperatures.
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