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Adams Woman Dies in Fire Caused by Candle

By Jack Guerino
iBerkshires Staff
Adams and Cheshire firefighters responded to a reported structure fire on West Street in Adams on Wednesday night.

ADAMS, Mass. — The fire on West Street on Wednesday evening claimed the life of an 88-year-old woman.

Eunice St. Hilaire was killed in the blaze that was started by a candle on a nightstand in her first-floor bedroom.

In a statement, State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said, "remnants of a candle were found in the area of origin and all other possible causes were ruled out."

St. Hilaire reported lived alone in the single-family home. The Fire Department was notified of the fire by a life-alert type system that included a connection to a smoke alarm.

"This is the second fatal fire in the last two weeks caused by a candle," Coan said. "I would encourage people to switch to battery-operated candles especially in homes with young children, people with disabilities, or pets."

According to the Coan's office, there were 135 candle fires in Massachusetts in 2013 that caused two civilian deaths, 25 civilian injuries, six firefighter injuries and an estimated dollar loss of $4.3 million in damages.

"On behalf of the citizens of Adams and the members of the Fire Department, I offer my deepest condolences to the family. Fire is a terrible way to lose a loved one," said Adams Fire Chief Paul Goyette in a statement.

He added, "We had to dig out the nearest hydrant but had sufficient water from the engine until the hydrant connection was made. If it had been a larger fire, digging out the hydrant might have caused a delay at a time when seconds count. If you are able to adopt a hydrant, the Fire Department and your neighbors would be grateful for your assistance."

West Street is in a heavily settled neighborhood, near the town's center. Witnesses saw St. Hilaire being removed from her home on a stretcher; she was taken to the Northern Berkshire Campus of Berkshire Medical Center.

The fire was jointly investigated by the Adams Fire Department, the Adams Police Department and State Police assigned to both the Office of the State Fire Marshal and to the office of Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless. Assistance was received from an electrical expert, the Code Compliance Unit of the Department of Fire Services' Division of Fire Safety and State Police Crime Scene Services.

The statement from Coan's office was also sent on behalf of Capeless, Goyette and Adams Police Chief Richard Tarsa Jr.
 


 

Adams Fire Extinguished; Resident Taken To Hospital

Original post at 9:13 p.m., Feb. 18, 2015
ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters were able to quickly knock down a West Street fire  on Wednesday night.

The one resident in the home was transported to the Northern Berkshire campus of Berkshire Medical Center in North Adams. The individual's condition and identity was not available.

Fire Chief Paul Goyette said the department responded to reports of sounding fire alarms and smoke in the air at about 7 p.m.. He said the fire started in a bedroom in the 5 West St. building, and firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze swiftly.

"Knockdown was not too bad. Our crews made an entry without aid of a hose line," Goyette said. "We did an initial search and found nothing and then backed out, got a hose line, and we had a visible fire and we knocked the fire down."

Police, Cheshire Fire Department and North Adams and Adams ambulance services responded. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the state fire marshal.

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Police Investigating Death of Wanted Adams Man

Staff Reports
Police blocked Cherry Street on Friday evening during the investigation of a possible suicide when police where searching for a wanted suspect.

ADAMS, Mass. — A local man with outstanding warrants took his own life Friday night after police entered his home.  

Michael C. Jimenez, 27, of 7 Cherry St. apparently shot himself at about 9 p.m.

A statement released by the Berkshire district attorney's office at about 3 a.m. Saturday said members of the state police Community Action Team had learned that Jimenez was in the Cherry Street home.

Jimenez had outstanding arrest warrants from Hampden Superior Court and Springfield District Court. The statement did not detail the nature of the warrants.

"Troopers were admitted to a residence at 7 Cherry Street and after an inquiry about the whereabouts of the suspect heard a single gunshot. Upon a cautious approach to the second floor, troopers discovered the suspect, deceased," according to the district attorney's office.

No further details were released.

Scanner reports at the time indicated an "active shooter" on Cherry Street and reports of gunshots, including officers being shot at.

"Police were yelling to get back in the house, that guns were drawn," said Erika Brown, who lives two houses up from scene. She added, "it was something you'd see on TV like 'The First 48.'"

There was a heavy police presence at the scene for most of the evening. Adams Police and state police were at the scene, a single-family home near the top of the steep, narrow street. Brown said she saw a young child carried out of the house by police and taken from the scene by ambulance.

It was not clear who else lived in the house or if Jimenez was the owner.

The special response team from Pittsfield had been called but that request was canceled, according to scanner reports.

Both ends of Cherry Street were blocked off and police tape strung across the home's driveway.

State Police Ballistics and Crime Scene Services Sections were assisting in the investigation. Adams Ambulance Service also had personnel at the scene.

Brown, who moved to the neighborhood in November, described it as quiet.

"You barely see anyone around here, no noise, very peaceful," she said. "[Jimenez] came over while my boyfriend was shoveling three days ago and invited us to come down his house sometime."

The street was not reopened until about 1 a.m. but investigators were still inside the house.

The incident remains under investigation.

Complete write-thru and updated information from original posts.

 

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Ex-Adams Officer Charged With ID Fraud, Prescription Forgery

Staff Reports
Thomas Cook

ADAMS, Mass. — A former Adams Police officer has been charged with trying to get a prescription filled falsely by using another man's identity.

According to a report on MassLive, 35-year-old Thomas Cook of Cheshire was charged in Westfield District Court for "uttering a false prescription, identity fraud, police or witness intimidation, receiving stolen property and attempting to commit a crime."

According to the police report, Cook tried to pass himself off as Todd Syrett, whom he had arrested in 2012. He dropped off a prescription for a stimulant known as methylphenidate (Ritalin, etc) at Westfield CVS and showed Syrett's driver's license to the pharmacist, the report said.

When the real Todd Syrett was texted that the prescription was ready, he contacted the pharmacy, which in turn contacted police, according to MassLive.

Cook was released on personal recognizance Judge Philip Contant after being arraigned.

Police Chief Richard Tarsa said on Wednesday night that Cook was no longer in the town's employ.

"He is no longer an employee of Adams or the Adams Police Department and he officially resigned Tuesday afternoon," he said.

Cook had been on the force for more than four years. He was hired to replace Officer Alan Vigiard, who was charged with possessing child pornography, then laid off because of budget cuts. He was reinstalled in 2010 in part because of a federal grant.

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Adams Structure Fire Contained; Pets Rescued

By Jack Guerino
iBerkshires Staff
Adams firefighters were on the scene of a structure fire early Sunday morning on Water Street.

ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters swiftly contained a house fire early Sunday morning, saving more than a dozen pets.

The Fire Department responded to the report of a structure fire at 2:30 a.m. at 27 Water St.

Heavy smoke could be seen coming from the back of the two-story house, and some witnesses said flames were visible.

"The first arriving units were on the scene within three minutes, and the external fire was knocked down within five to seven minutes," Fire Chief Paul Goyette said. "Then the fire got into the voids of the structure so we had to do a lot of opening up."
 
Goyette said they were able to get everyone out of the house safely and rescue most of the pets in the house.
 
"Everybody got out OK," he said. "We also rescued 10 iguanas and one cat; two iguanas didn't make it."
 
Home owner Laura Borowski posted later that two bearded dragons had died. "We saved 2 iguanas and 10 bearded dragons and my cat," she wrote.
 
Goyette said the cause of the fire is still under investigation by the state fire marshal’s office.
 
Adams received mutual aid from the North Adams and the Cheshire fire departments. The Clarksburg Fire Department covered the Adams station; North Adams Ambulance sent its rehab trailer and Adams Ambulance had two ambulances on scene..
 
Goyette said even though the damage is extensive, he thinks the house will be saved.
 
"The damage is quite extensive. At this time, the town building inspector looked at it, and [the insurance company] and him will determine if the structure has to come down or not," Goyette said. "I do not at this time believe it will, but there a lot of cogs that work in that decision."
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Fire Destroys Adams Apartment Building

Staff Reports
A massive blaze destroyed a building on Temple Street in Adams early Saturday.

Update: 2:45 p.m., Dec. 22:

One side of the building was occupied by the Palumbo family: Bruce and Brenda Palumbo lived in the downstairs apartment and their daughter Haley and her boyfriend, Mike, lived above them. Friends say Haley got everyone out of the house but her parents lost everything and she lost almost all of her things.

The family is also dealing with medical issues after Brenda Palumbo was taken to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield later on Saturday after reportedly suffering a heart attack.

Haley Palumbo's best friend Kyla Cabana has started a fund drive for the Palumbos.

"They are amazing nice people and would do anything for anyone," Cabana wrote in an email message.

Cabana has set a goal of $5,000; by Sunday afternoon, more than $1,700 had been raised. AP Home Decor & More in North Adams is also accepting small cash donations for the Palumbos.


ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters from four communities fought a massive early morning blaze that destroyed an apartment building on Temple Street early Saturday morning.

"The fire had a good hold on arrival and it was a team effort by all departments in order to get this under control," said Fire Chief Paul Goyette. "But the bottom line is no firefighters got hurt."

One of the tenants was taken to the hospital for a rapid heartbeat.

Cheshire, Clarksburg and Lanesborough fire companies joined Adams firefighters in attacking the blaze that tore through all four of the apartments in the building before burning into the attic.

"Once it went right through the roof, I pulled all of firefighters out of the building," Goyette said, for safety reasons.

The chief said the structure at 18 Temple St. was built in the 1800s and, like many buildings of that era, has a balloon construction frame that helped the fire spread.

The middle of the building was gutted and roof caved in between the attic dormers.

"I called it under control at 6:28 a.m. and we maintained a fire watch until 2 p.m. this afternoon," Goyette said.

The fire started in an external storage area near the rear basement level. The state fire marshal responded to the scene; it is under investigation and the cause has not been determined, said Goyette.

It will be up to building inspection and the compliance officer to determine if the structure will have to come down. The building is owned by James and Claire Adams, according to documents on file with Registry of Deeds.

Adams Ambulance and North Adams Ambulance services both responded to the scene. North Adams Fire Department covered the Adams station.

Goyette said only one call reporting a structure fire came in and it was not known if it was a tenant who alerted emergency services. He believed there were five people living in three of the four apartments, all of whom were outside the building when the Fire Department arrived. They were being taken in by relatives and friends and some of their personal items were recovered.

"It's a terrible thing to happen just before the holidays," he said.

A fundraiser has been started for some of the residents who were forced out their homes and lost so much just days before Christmas. Donations for the Palumbo family can be made here.

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