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Possible Abduction Attempt in South Berkshire

Staff Reports

NEW MARLBOROUGH, Mass. — Parents in the Southern Berkshire Regional School District are being advised to be alert after a possible abduction attempt Thursday afternoon.

Authorities say the incident happened about 3:30 on Norfolk Road in New Marlborough as an 11-year-old boy walked home from school.

The boy told investigators he was approached by a man in a gray, four-door car with blue and white New York license plates.

The driver was described as a white man, approximately 30 to 40 years old with a thin build and medium-length black hair that looked a little shaggy.

Anyone who might have seen a vehicle matching this description is asked to call the state police barracks in Lee at 413-243-0600.

In a letter to parents, Mount Everett Regional School Principal Glenn Devoti said the suspicious man "may have attempted to abduct a 6th grade elementary student."

The police and bus company were notified, wrote Devoti.

The New Marlborough Police Department, state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's Office and state troopers from the Lee barracks are investigating.

"Please be cautious about leaving students unsupervised at bus stops and notify police or school personnel if you observe anyone matching this description or observe any other suspicious behavior," he asked.

Lanesborough Police were also looking for a New York vehicle earlier this week, that one a red sedan, possibly a late 1990s model similar to a Pontiac Grand Am, and operated by an older white man with facial hair.

In that case, police said the car had been seen around school bus stops in Lanesborough and they wished to speak with the operator.

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Crash On Mall Road Sends Four to the Hospital

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

State Police closed off the Mall Road at the intersection of Route 7.

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — A two-car crash closed the Mall Road for about two hours Thursday night and sent four to the hospital.

According to Police Officer Brad Lepicier, two sedans collided on what is officially known as the Route 7/8 Connector Road and one vehicle had caught on fire.

Bystanders pulled three people from the burning vehicle and they were transported to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield. The driver of the other vehicle, who was traveling eastbound, was also transported to the hospital.

"All four people were transported to the hospital," Lepicier said, later adding that "bystanders pulled three people out of the car that was on fire before I got there."

The extent of the injuries is not known at this time but initial scanner reports indicated the injuries were "serious."

On Thursday night, Lepicier said he had not determined a cause of the crash and is not yet releasing the names of those involved.

Police immediately closed the road after responding to the call at about 7:30 p.m. and Cheshire Police and State Police were stationed at each end: Cheshire near the Berkshire Mall and state police at the intersection of Route 7. Lanesborough Fire and Ambulance responded as did County Ambulance.

The road was reopened at about 9:30 p.m. The accident happened near the top of the long, steep Connector Road, which was recently rebuilt. Snow and ice during the day Thursday created dangerous conditions on many county roads. The Mall Road call was the second major accident Lanesborough Police responded to on Thursday. They were also called to assist Williamstown Police in response to a head-on collision on Route 7 earlier in the day.

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Lanesborough's Foam House Burns Down

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
A fire completely destroyed the National Street home. At left as seen in a realty advertisement.

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The foam house on National Street  burned to the ground Thursday afternoon.

The seasonal home is somewhat of a local landmark. The foam created a rounded, bubble-like appearance which led many to dub it  "The Flintstone House."

According to Fire Chief Charlie Durfee, firefighters responded to the fully engulfed structure fire shortly after 2 p.m. on Thursday.

The house, a wooden structure encased in foam, was already mostly burnt and the firefighters launched a "surround and drown" attack to prevent the flames from damaging nearby properties.

"I was on Narragansett Street, came around the corner and saw this house fully involved and called in a structure fire," Durfee said. "It's the foam house at the bottom on National Street and was built right around 1972."

The foam fueled the fire and the focus was on protecting nearby properties, Durfee said. The flames were so hot that they dried up leaves wet from the rain and threatened to spread. Pieces of foam flew in the sky and littered nearby properties.

The electric was shut off after the wires caught fire.

Durfee said he immediately called in support from Cheshire and Pittsfield and attacked the fire from both National Street and from Imperial Street — which runs parallel — to put out the flames in about 45 minutes. County Ambulance responded on scene as well.

The building at 45 National St. is used seasonally and no one was there at the time. It is owned by Denise Barrierre of Rhode Island. The small structure had one bedroom and one bath and was about a 1,000 square feet in size.

It was built in the 1970s with foam with a focus on being energy efficient. There were no firefighters injured in the process of knocking down the flames during the heavy rain.

The cause is undetermined after a fire inspector arrived on the scene Thursday afternoon.

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Pittsfield Police Asking Residents To ID Stolen Property

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police have recovered hundreds of pieces of jewelry and other items that are not matching up with their records of items reported stolen in a recent rash of break-ins.

Anyone who has had their home broken into prior to March 22 is being asked to identify their possessions at an open house on Saturday, June 8, from 10 to 2 at the Police Department on Allen Street.

Police say the items either haven't been reported stolen or were stolen from homes outside of city. The investigation is being done by state, Cheshire, Lanesborough and Pittsfield police. Some of the recovered property has already be linked to break-ins in those communities and in Richmond.

Police have arrested Christopher Maschino Jr., 21, and Anne Haughey, 21, both of Pittsfield, in connection with the break-ins.

Even if the owners of the seized property can identify it, they cannot take possession of their items immediately because they are being held as evidence until released by the district attorney's office.

Attendees are required to bring a valid identification to the open house and are asked to bring any ownership documents.

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Lanesborough Shed Explodes; Firefighters Prevent Forest Fire

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

A propane tank exploded inside the shed sparking the fire.

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — A shed behind a Potter Mountain home exploded Friday afternoon and nearly spread to a full-blown brush fire.
 
According to the homeowner, who wished to remain anonymous, his wife heard a loud bang at about 3 p.m. and moments later flames in the back yard had engulfed the nearby trees. The shed was completely destroyed and fire burned about an acre of land. 
 
"The flames were over the trees," he said.
 
Upon arriving, firefighters immediately called in tanker trucks from Hancock and Richmond to contain the fire from spreading up the Potter Mountain hillside, according to Fire Chief Charlie Durfee.
 
The state Department of Conservation and Recreation was called because of the "Class 4" conditions, meaning there is a high-level risk for brush fires.
 
"We were preventing the fire from spreading to a full-blown brush fire," Durfee said. "It could have taken off and burned 200 acres up the mountain."
 
Firefighters used about 4,000 gallons of water to put out the flames in about 30 minutes. Employees of nearby Sayers Auto Wrecking helped remove brush near the fire.
 
"The cause of the explosion is likely from a 1-pound propane cylinder for a grill," Durfee said, explaining that sometimes the propane expands and blows up the cylinder. 
 
Durfee said that type of explosion doesn't happen often but he was "just thankful the propane was out in the shed and not in the garage."
 
Nobody was injured. The shed housed typical outdoor items like fences and toys. A boat next to the shed was also destroyed.
 
The homeowner said he does have insurance, which will cover the replacement cost. 
 
"I have to give credit to Lanesborough and Richmond. They did a fabulous job," he said. "They knocked it down really quickly."
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