Owner Guy Cariddi, right, was at the scene as the state fire marshal investigated Thursday's blaze.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — They were still toting up the damage at Cariddi's Auto Sales on Friday but the owner said he isn't leaving.
"We've been here for 29 years and have developed a substantial cumstomer base," said Guy R. Cariddi, standing in front of the scorched building as a state fire marshal inspected the roof. "We aren't going anywhere."
The blaze began in the corner of a bay on the north end of the four-bay structure. Fire Director Stephen Meranti said the fire started in the ceiling area behind the office in a boiler room area.
Light pours through a hole in the building's roof; left, the office window is smashed. The red car was in for service after being bought by someone last week.
"We still haven't narrowed it down yet," he said of the cause. He pointed to the roof of the building, which has gone through a number of conversions since its construction as a car wash by Cariddi's father in the late 1960s. "You can see there are different layers of roof. See the metal ceiling – on top of that is a space and another metal roof and then there's a void space and a regular roof."
That configuration helped the blaze stubbornly burn in the roof, lighting up the sky with deep red flames and smoke. Firefighters had to cut their way through the roof to contain the fire.
Cariddi's son was working on a truck in the nearby bay and fled the building as it filled with smoke. The truck and another used vehicle were damaged beyond repair as were two customer's cars. Cariddi said one had just been purchased; the other bought the week before.
The owners of both vehicles told him they'd wait for him to find them replacements. That loyalty and support has been coming in all day, he said.
"I'm amazed, we've had an outpouring of people come here today offering to do anything they can for us," he said. Among them have been fellow car dealers and property owners offering space — from the old Gateway Chevrolet to West End Auto to Dean's Auto in Adams. "Everybody has just been fantastic."
Cariddi said he will be moving temporarily down to the old Ernie's Auto Sales, across from Ernest Gamache's new building at 400 Curran Highway. Cariddi said he and Gamache have been friends al ong time and he appreciated the offer. Dean's Quality Truck and Auto, owned by Joseph Dean just down the road, offered to let Cariddi's tow trucks plug in there over the weekend until the power can be turned on.
The roof is charred near where the fire started; that bay has been blocked with plywood.
No decision will be made on the building until the building inspector and Cariddi's engineer and architect take a look at it. The building may end up being demolished and a new one put up; Cariddi said they'll take their time and not make any "rash decisions."
The fire also brought out an outpouring of municipal aid from local fire companies, including Adams, Clarksburg and Florida. Stamford, Vt., covered the Clarksburg station and even Savoy offered a helping hand by showing up with nourishment for the cold and wet firefighters.
"The chief came down and brought all kinds of food and stuff for us," said Meranti. "I guess they had a function going on."
Update: Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011: The cause of blaze was a short in 220-volt electrical line feeding into a circuit breaker in the ceiling, according to the North Adams Transcript.
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.