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Bennington College Fire Causes $250K in Damages

Staff Reports
BENNINGTON, Vt. — A fire on Tuesday afternoon caused $250,000 worth of damage to a building at Bennington College.
 
According to state police, the fire was reported at about 1 p.m. at the North Bennington campus from the administrative offices. The staff was alerted to the fire by a contractor who was performing work on the outside of the building. 
 
The North Bennington Fire Department was alerted and responded to the scene. Because of the amount of smoke and fire upon arrival, additional assistance was requested and members of the following departments responded: Bennington, Bennington Rural and Shaftsbury and New York State's Hoosick Falls and North Hoosick. 
 
Bennington College security and firefighters were able to evacuate everyone safely and firefighters were able to prevent extensive damage or spread of the fire. No injuries were reported.
 
North Bennington Fire Chief Keith Cross requested the assistance of the state Department of Public Safety's Fire and Explosions Investigation Unit to assist in confirming the origin and cause for the fire. Members of this team immediately responded to examine the scene.
 
The investigators were State Police Det. Sgt. Steven Otis and Assistant State Fire Marshal Tim Angell of the Division of Fire Safety. 
 
As a result of the examination, this fire is being classified as accidental. There were two potential electrical causes: one is the general state of the wiring in the very old farm building that had been converted to office space and the second, the ongoing contractual work that had been on the exterior of this building for the past two weeks included nailing replacement siding and door and window trim.
 
The fire originated on the interior of the walls on the east side of the building and extended through the balloon-frame construction and into the attic/crawl space, which was extensively damaged. There had been electrical issues reported during the day by staff that included flickering lights and a humming or beehive like sounds coming from the exterior wall.
 
Otis and Angell recommended that when you experience an electrical anomaly or hear strange sounds coming from within a wall that has electricity running through it that you contact an electrician, building maintenance or electrical engineer to diagnose any possible issues. This could save lives and or prevent extensive damage to the structure. These issues can often be isolated simply by shutting off the breaker to an affected area until it can be properly diagnosed or inspected.
 
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Great Barrington Police Respond to Fatal Hunting Incident

Staff Reports
Update at 6:30 p.m. with identification and quote:
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — A 44-year-old Pittsfield man was killed on Saturday during what police say was a hunting accident. 
 
Christopher Puntin had been participating in a youth turkey hunt with two other adults and a juvenile.
 
According to Chief William Walsh, Police Officers Jonathan Finnerty and Kristopher Balestro, firefighter and EMTs responded about noon to a report of a hunting incident in a wooded area on Monument Valley Road and located the victim.
 
Puntin sustained a fatal gunshot wound and was pronounced dead at the scene. No one else was injured.
 
An initial police investigation suggests the incident was an accident. 
 
"This is a tragic situation for all involved," Chief William Walsh said. "I'd like to commend the efforts of all responders under the command of Sgt. Adam Carlotto and Sgt. Paul Storti on a very difficult call."
 
Walsh also praised the assistance police received Saturday from the Fire Department and the Southern Berkshire Ambulance Squad Saturday. 
 
This incident remains under investigation by the Massachusetts Environmental Police and State Police detectives assigned to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office and Great Barrington Police.
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First-Responders Deal With Multi-Vehicle Accidents in Adams, North Adams

Staff Reports

A three-car accident forced detours for drivers heading north on Commercial Street. 
ADAMS, Mass. — Emergency responders in Adams and North Adams dealt with two motor vehicle accidents on Tuesday afternoon. 
 
The first occurred about 4 p.m. in front of the McDonald's restaurant in Adams and involved three motor vehicles headed north on Commercial Street leading up to the light. 
 
The vehicles were a gray Ford 150 extend cab, a dark blue Chevrolet Traverse sport utility vehicle and a gray Jeep Renegade sedan, in that order. 
 
The truck incurred damage to its front end, knocking off the front bumper; the SUV's rear hatch was dented in and it received minor damage to its front end; the Jeep's rear bumper and hatchback was damaged. Two people were taken from the scene by ambulance, including the driver of the SUV whom firefighters and EMTs took some time to remove from the vehicle. 
 
The truck was towed by Al's Service Center and the SUV by Dean's Repair Shop. Police, firefighters, Adams Ambulance and North Berkshire EMS responded to the scene. Traffic was diverted for nearly an hour with north bound vehicles detoured through the Hoosac Valley Elementary School driveway to Liberty Street. 
 
In North Adams, a van and a coupe collided on Ashland Street in front of Pizza Works at about 4:43 p.m. The blue Dodge van appeared to be exiting the pizzeria parking lot and the Chevrolet Cavalier was southbound. Both vehicles incurred significant front-end damage to no appeared to be injured. 
 
The van was towed by Cariddi Auto and the Chevy by Mohawk Auto Wrecking. City police and firefighters along with North Berkshire EMS responded to the scene. Traffic was diverted between Blackinton Avenue and Davenport Street for about 40 minutes. 
 
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Pittsfield Man Found Guilty Of Rape And Abuse Of A Child

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. - A city man was founded guilty of three counts of rape and abuse of a child on Wednesday.
 
Omar Enriquez, 43, was found guilty by a jury after some two hours of deliberation on Wednesday. The case a retrial after the first jurors were unable to reach a decision and it was ruled a mistrial.
 
The charges against Enriquez related to an incident first occurring four years ago, when the victim was 14 years old. He was also found guilty on charges of raping the same victim in 2015 and 2016 when she was 15. 
 
The lead prosecutor in the case was Assistant District Attorney Andrew P. Giarolo. Enriquez faces a minimum of 10 years in state prison at sentencing.
 
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Charges Pending in Pittsfield Hit and Run

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Charges are pending against a city woman who allegedly ran over a pedestrian and then drove away.
 
Police say on Monday at about 3:07 p.m. officers responded to the intersection of West Union Street and Pacific Street for a reported hit and run. Jeanine Pettijohn, 45, was found injured. She was transported to Berkshire Medical Center and admitted.
 
Police later found the vehicle on Union Street and identified Debra Johnson, 51, as the operator. Charges are pending against Johnson. 
 
The crash remains under investigation by the Pittsfield Police Traffic Bureau. Anyone who may have witnessed the crash is asked to contact Officer David Hallas at (413)-448-9700 Ext. 560.
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