Truck Fire Shuts Down Section of Mohawk Trail
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A truck caught fire on the Mohawk Trail late Thursday afternoon, prompting police to close off a portion of Route 2 for about an hour and a half.
North Adams Fire Director Steve Meranti said there were no injuries, and that the fire was contained to the tractor portion of the vehicle and did not spread to the trailer. He said the cause was most likely "a mechanical malfunction."
At approximately 4:30 p.m., two Dean's Quality Auto trucks arrived for cleanup and towing. Meranti expected the road to be re-opened by 5:30 p.m.
Check back later for more information.
Update at 7:04 p.m.
The truck, which was eastbound on Route 2, was a white 2000 Sterling semi tractor-trailer driven by Edward J. St. John, 68, of Royalston and owned by Kenneth D. Pratt, operating as Pratt Transport of Winchendon. The trailer is owned by B&B Truck Leasing of Jefferson, Maine.
Ambulances were dispatched but St. John was not taken to the hospital.
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Police Probe Suicide, Arson Case
POWNAL, Vt. — A Pownal man apparently set fire to his home before killing himself on Wednesday night.
State police and the office of the chief medical examiner are investigating the death of Hans J. Schiermeyer, 53, of 519 State Line Drive. Schiermeyer's death is believed to have been the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound that occurred during the evening of June 2.
Schiermeyer's body and a firearm were found by firefighters battling the blaze at the single-family home off Route 7 near the Massachusetts border.
The fire was reported at about 9:30 p.m. and firefighters found the home completely engulfed, according to state police. Nobody else was discovered at Schiermeyer's home, which was completely destroyed by fire.
According to Det. Sgt. Robert Patten: "Shortly before the reported fire, Schiermeyer's wife contacted state police, seeking an escort to her home. Schiermeyer's wife conveyed that while returning from an out-of-country trip, Schiermeyer had threatened in a telephone conversation that he was going to set their house on fire and kill himself in the process."
An autopsy was to be conducted Thursday.
Pownal firefighters were reportedly aided by Bennington and Williamstown, Mass., fire departments.
Schiermeyer had been a pilot for the Steiner family in Williamstown at one time. He held an airline transport pilot license, the highest rated license for a pilot, and was given a second class medical rating in December.
A native of Rietberg, Germany, he had become an avid skydiver in recent years. On his profile on Skydivernetwork.com, he describes his relationship status as "It's complicated."
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Lightning Strikes Williamstown Home
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A single-family residence at 41 John St. was heavily damaged by fire early Saturday morning after a lightning bolt apparently bounced off a nearby pine tree and struck the roof. It was the second time in as many years that the town's suffered a devastating strike.
The renovated attic space of the home, owned by Robert Crosky, was gutted by flames as firefighters battled the blaze for an hour and a half in a downpour before getting it under control.
Chief Craig Pedercini takes pictures of the scene. Right, the tree that was struck is close to the house.
"We made a couple of advances but we were pushed back," said Fire Chief Craig Pedercini early Saturday afternoon, as he stood next a pile of personal items and sopping insulation in the back yard. "We had to take a defensive mode and hit it heavy from the outside."
The difficulty in accessing the third floor was compounded by the home's configuration; lots of hose had to be hauled up stairs and down hallways. On the third try, firefighters were able to get into the area and contain the blaze.
"The guys did a great job — from here, from Pownal, from Clarksburg — as far as I'm concerned," said Pedercini.
The Clarksburg and Pownal, Vt., fire departments were called in for mutual aid, a standard practice for structure fires. The Stamford, Vt., Fire Department covered the Clarksburg station.
The big cracking boom over Williamstown could be heard from Pownal to Clarksburg, waking many from slumber at about 3 a.m.
It woke Pedercini out of a sound sleep. He said all he could think was "I hope that didn't hit anything." But minutes later, the reports came in of a fire at the corner of John and Manning streets, a dense neighborhood. By the time firefighters arrived, flames were coming through the roof.
Crosky was home alone; his wife and two children were out of town. Pedercini said Crosky told him he was wakened by the boom and went into the hallway and saw ceiling plaster on the floor and flames peeking through a hole in the ceiling. He immediately called 911.
Pedercini didn't want to speculate on the cost of the damage, other than to say it would be significant. The third floor's two bedrooms and a bathroom were destroyed, large sections of roof are gone and the downstairs was heavily damaged.
"There was a tremendous amount of water damage and some smoke damage," said Pedercini. "It's going to be a total renovation."
The 80-foot pine outside the front door was scarred by the lightning but didn't appear otherwise damaged, although Pedericini said he's suggested the homeowner have it checked. The family's pet dog and bird also survived the blaze.
Crosky was busy with an insurance adjuster and figuring out what he and his family were going to do next. "I have to find where we're going to live for now."
In August 2008, a bolt of lightning hit the hay barn at Bonnie Lea Farm, burning it to the ground; two horses had been killed lightning there in 2005. A month before that, a strike barely missed a home on Pine Cobble Road, taking out the backyard swing set instead.
"It's devastating. We leave but the homeowner still has to deal with this," said Pedercini. "But you know, the communities ... just come together and offer their assistance."
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At right, the bolt left a large scar nearly three-quarters of the way up the tree.
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Richmond Cottage Destroyed by Fire
RICHMOND, Mass. — With Thursday's high winds, it wasn't a good day to do any outside burning but apparently, one Richmond resident didn't think so — with terrible results.
Police Officer Tom Grizzy said volunteer firefighters from Richmond, Hancock, West Stockbridge and Canaan, N.Y., responded to the 1 p.m. call after sparks from a controlled burn landed on an abandoned cottage on Richmond Shores.
The cottage was totally destroyed by the blaze. After the fire was knocked down, a backhoe was brought in to level the smoldering ruins. Police said action against the neighbor who decided burn yard waste in high winds may be pending.
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Train Sparks Brush Fire in Great Barrington
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — One of our readers in Great Barrington reports that the Fire Department responded to a brush fire along the railroad tracks on Taconic Avenue on Monday afternoon.
The call came in around 3:30 p.m. that a train passing south along the Housatonic Railroad tracks sparked a fire in the dry vegetation that spread. The train reportedly continued to Canaan, Conn., where it was contacted. Luckily, it did not spark more blazes as it moved south.
It took firefighters only about 10 minutes to bring the blaze under control and they returned to headquarters around 4:15. Egremont Fire Department was put on standby for Great Barrington.
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