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Arsonist Targets 8 Buildings in Great Barrington

Nichole Dupont

Update: Thursday, 10 p.m.: Red Crow News reports that artist David Pixley, 62, was arraigned Thursday morning in Southern Berkshire District Court on on two of counts of arson, five of attempting to burn buildings, and three of attempting to burn vehicles.

Pixley is being held on $50,000 bail after being caught by police in the early morning hours allegedly trying to set a fire at TD Banknorth. Pixley allgedy fled the scene, according to Red Crow News, and police gave chase, taking him into custody at his 20 Hollenbeck Ave. apartment.

Update Thursday, 10:48 a.m.: Police have arrested a suspect in connection with at least two of Wednesday's arson fires in Great Barrington. The unidentified man was arrested at about 2 a.m. on Thursday morning when he was found in the parking lot of TD Banknorth on 271 Main St., allegedly in the act of trying to start yet another fire.

Debris behind Barrington Outfitters. The back of the building sustained damage after someone set fire to it.

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Eight buildings in the downtown and three motor vehicles were targeted by an unknown arsonist early Wednesday morning. Police are looking for a man wearing a dark-colored poncho and black North Face winter gloves.

Fires were set at Barrington Outfitters on Main Street and Lee Bank; combustibles were found in the other locations but no fires set, according to authorities.

The blazes occurred at about 1:40 a.m., according to a statement from Town Manager Kevin O'Donnell, and were brought under control by the Fire Department and four mutual aid towns. No one was injured in either case.  

"Police investigation determined that the fires were set. Five other buildings, Shopper's Guide, Foster's Hardware, Toole Insurance Agency, Berkshire Block and Gypsy Joynt, locations adjacent to the Foster's Hardware parking lot, were also targeted as well as the Tune Street building on Railroad Street with combustibles and flammable liquids, but were not set on fire. Three vehicles in the Foster's parking lot had flammable liquid applied to them, but were not burned."

Barrington Outfitters was closed earlier this morning while police and contractors assessed the damage, which was done to the back of the store. Police and the owners, the Druckers, declined to comment on the blaze.

The second fire started in a vacant store front in the Lee Bank building that was left unlocked. Fire Chief Harry Jennings used the town's reverse 911 system to notify business owners about clearing debris and securing their businesses properly at night.

Police picked up a homeless man, 19-year-old Matthew Wilcox of Egremont Plain Road, who they said broke into the storage shed behind Barrington Outfitters. According to the town statement, police do not believe Wilcox was involved in the fires but he has not been ruled out. He was arraigned this morning in Southern Berkshire District Court on charges of breaking and entering and trespassing.

Police are working with the state police Crime Scene Services, troopers assigned to the state fire marshal's office and district attorney's office, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. They canvassed the downtown area and distributed a photo of the suspect.

The fire marshal's Arson Reward Program offers up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction. Anyone with information is asked to call 800-682-9229 or Police Chief William Walsh at 413-528-0306.

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North Adams Fire Leaves Many Homeless

Andy McKeever

A resident reported smelling smoke in the attic before smoke detectors went off, which gave firefighters enough time to prevent a fully involved fire.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — An early morning fire at 170-172 Bracewell Ave. left about 10 people homeless Wednesday despite being snuffed out quickly, according to the Fire Department.

Firefighters were able to prevent the blaze from expanding throughout the old wooden structure but the residents will be displaced until some minor renovations are completed, Fire Department Lt. John Paciorek said Wednesday afternoon.

"It was good that they were that fast. Another few minutes on a balloon-frame structure makes a big difference," Paciorek said on Wednesday. "It was a great stop on their part."

A resident on the second floor of the building that houses two apartments reported the smell of smoke from the attic at about 3:45 a.m. Upon arrival Lt. Joseph Beverly and the city's group C firefighters used thermal imaging to find a fire between the ceiling of the second floor and the attic, according to Paciorek.

All city firefighters were later called in and had to tear up attic floorboard and break windows to prevent the blaze from expanding. There were no injuries, he said.

"Everybody got out safely," Paciorek said. "Which is great considering the time of night."

The building is structurally sound but there is smoke and water damage that will have to be fixed before residents can move back in, he said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation but it does not appear to be suspicious, Paciorek said.

An air truck from the Adams Fire Department assisted on the call and an engine from the Clarksburg Fire Department covered the city's station. Firefighters were on scene for about four hours and then a fire watch unit stayed until about 10 a.m. looking for hotspots.

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Stockbridge Home Damaged by Fire

Nichole Dupont

A fire on Clark Road destroyed the enclosed sunroom of a residential home.

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — A fire that destroyed the back of a Clark Road home on Tuesday afternoon was contained with the aide of firefighters from four departments.

Stockbridge Fire Chief Ernest "Chuck" Cardillo said the blaze at the home was reported by a neighbor at around 3:15 p.m. Fortunately, he said, no one was in the house when the fire broke out.

"The daughter had just gotten dropped off from school and she didn't even go into the house because she saw the fire," Cardello said. "I think the neighbor saw it at the same time because that's when we got the call. We were able to contain the fire within 20 or 30 minutes."
 
Although the cause has not been determined, Cardello said it began on the enclosed back porch, or sunroom, and spread upwards into the attic. A pellet stove was in the room but was not being used.

"Actually the homeowner told us that he had just finished building the porch not too long ago," he said. "There's a significant amount of damage but fortunately the house wasn't totaled. It can be rebuilt and no one was hurt."

Trucks from Lee, Lenox and Great Barrington were called in to assist and the Lee Ambulance was also called in to stay on standby.

Cardello said the muddy road, which is located in a swampy area, did present problems for fire trucks that had to back out upon leaving the scene.

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Structure Fire in Becket

Staff Reports

BECKET, Mass. — Firefighters are responding to a fully involved structure fire on Minstrels Way in Sherwood Forest. The report of a fire came in at about 3:30 p.m.

Smoke is pouring from the building and the Fire Department is calling for more equipment and manpower.

A tanker and engine have been requested from Otis Fire Department and Hinsdale is standing by in the station. An ambulance has also been called to the scene and an incident command team activated. Chester has also sent men and equipment.

Complicating matters are reports of a 600-pound propane tank at the back of the building.

Reports are from FireGround360.

The scene was cleared at 11 p.m., according to reports.

If anyone has more information on the fire, please post below.

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Fire Breaks Out at Lee Resort

Nichole Dupont
Check out this video by The Berkshire Record. Thanks to firebug below for leading us to it.

 

LEE, Mass. — A fire destroyed a lodge at Oak 'N Spruce Resort this morning. The building was not occupied at the time and the cause of the blaze is under investigation. A state fire marshal was seen arriving on the scene at 11 a.m.

The Lee Fire Department was backed up by South Lee, Stockbridge, Great Barrington, Lenox, Tyringham, Monterey and Stockbridge in containing the blaze that was believed to have started sometime around 5 a.m.

Firefighters said the call was received at 6:30 a.m. but one of the tenants in a nearby building is said to have smelled smoke shortly after 5 a.m. South Lee firefighter Garth Story said, "It was cooking pretty hot" when firefighters arrived on the scene.

It took more than two hours to douse the blaze in the heavily developed complex, which includes a number of three-story timeshare structures around a central "amenity core."

Meadow Street leading to the resort and a side road into the complex were closed to traffic.

The building was a two-story structure described The Berkshire Eagle as "Tanglewood Hall"; it is located next to the registration building.

The property was operated as a farm school for boys by the Episcopalian Diocese until being purchased and turned into a ski resort by Frank J. Prinz in 1947. Prinz sold the property to timeshare developers in 1985; it was greatly updated and expanded on by its current owner Silverleaf Resorts Inc.

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