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Firefighters Battle With Difficult Blaze At Cheshire Business

By Tammy Daniels & Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

CHESHIRE, Mass. — Firefighters battled a difficult blaze that destroyed a Windsor Road business Thursday night.

The Fire Department received a call at 7:21 p.m. of a garage fire as a blizzard swept through the region with frigid temperatures and gusty winds. Upon arrival, the former Kubota dealership was already heavily engulfed in flames.

"Our initial responders reported heavy fire from the garage spreading to the service area. We had a full response. Our first arriving engine went off the road, into a snow bank. Our second engine, when he got here, had electrical issues and lost all electric. We couldn't even flow water," Fire Chief Thomas Francesconi said.

The structure was recently purchased by J. Richardson Contracting. Francesconi said later in the evening that the cause was not yet known but appeared to have begun in the garage area based on initial reports. 

The initial responding officer had called immediately for mutual aid from multiple towns. Adams sent an engine while the Adams Forest Wardens, Savoy and Lanesborough departments sent tankers. Dalton Fire Department also responded.

Cheshire got its engine back in service with help from the Highway Department.

"Fortunately for us, our Highway Department was right on the ball. Our engine went off the side of the road and into the snow and they pulled our engine out," Francesconi said.

The former dealership is about three miles off Route 116, and the wind fueled and blew the blaze from the garage and into the former showroom area.

"If the wind wasn't so bad, it wouldn't have taken over on us so bad," the chief said.

The wind had not only fueled the blaze, but the fire also had a head start on responders. The building is on a infrequently traveled, narrow road, and by the time the department arrived it was "50 percent" involved.

"It is not a heavily traveled road, especially during a storm. You can go 10 minutes without seeing a car so nobody would know there was even a fire," Francesconi said.

One of the town's highway crew was plowing on Wells Road when he heard the call. He immediately headed to the scene and said the walls of the building were already collapsing. 

The firefighters struggled to get enough water to contain the scene. The flames towered high into the air while five tanker trucks were shuttling water from Hoosac Valley High School -- a trip that was taking at least take 20 minutes. Tankers from the three neighboring towns and from Cheshire shuttled water to the scene until the Hoosac Valley hydrants froze over. There are no hydrants in that area of Windsor Road.

When the wind whipped up, it sent billows of smoke, snow and sparks across the snow-covered yard.

Hinsdale Fire sent its rehab bus and North Adams Ambulance provided rehab on site and firefighters were routinely checking in to be safe. It could not put up its large tent because of the wind. Adams Ambulance also responded to the scene.

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North Adams Woman Injured When Her SUV Hits House

Staff Reports
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A 47-year-old North Adams woman was taken to Berkshire Medical Center's Pittsfield campus after her sport utility vehicle slammed into a portico on Church Street. 
 
The accident occurred about 9:51 a.m. on Thursday morning during the snowstorm. The driver was coming down Pleasant Street when her 2003 Ford Expedition began sliding. She was unable to control the SUV as it slid down the steep hill, across Church Street and into 193 Church. 
 
"There was significant structural damage to the front porch and front entrance," said Sgt. James Burdick, but the building inspector determined the house itself was habitable. 
 
The Ford took out one of the two Doric columns holding up the roof over the portico and severely damaged the other one. There also appeared to be damage to the building leading into the entryway. 
 
Burdick said firefighters, police, building and wire inspectors and North Adams Ambulance Service responded to the scene. The driver incurred head injuries but no one else was injured. Church Street was closed for about 90 minutes until the scene was cleared. 
 
Despite the poor weather conditions, only a few accidents had occurred by early afternoon, including single-car accident on Curran Highway with no injuries and a more serious one on Old State Street near Dorans around 2, according to scanner reports.
 
Burdick encouraged motorists, that if they had to be out in the weather, to drive slowly, make sure they kept appropriate distances from vehicles in front of them, and had the correct tires for driving. 
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Pittsfield Woman Injured When Car Rolled Over Her Leg

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. - A city woman was taken to the hospital after her vehicle rolled into her.
 
Police say Maria Leon, 58, exited her vehicle at 48 Elizabeth Street Wednesday afternoon but she didn't put it in park. The vehicle then rolled back, knocking her over, and ran over her leg.
 
Leon was transported to Berkshire Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries. Police say the incident is still under investigation and anyone who may have witnessed it is asked to contact Officer David Hallas at 448-9700 ext. 379.
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Pittsfield Man Arrested on Outstanding Warrants, Firearms Charges

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — State policed arrested a man on Tyler Street in Pittsfield on Sunday evening after it was determined that he had outstanding warrants and was unlawfully in possession of a firearm.
 
Michael McCoy, 31, of Pittsfield, was placed under arrest on three outstanding arrest warrants, which were for failure to appear in Central Berkshire District Court and original charges involving motor vehicle offenses.
 
Trooper Robert Berrena of the Troop B Community Action Team was on patrol on Tyler Street at about 7:45 p.m. when he observed a vehicle that he believed was being operated by a man whom he knew to have outstanding warrants.  
 
After confirming the existence of three warrants and that the vehicle, a 1995 Lexus ES300, had a revoked registration status, he pulled the vehicle over. It was being operated by McCoy.
 
While conducting an inventory of the motor vehicle, a Smith and Wesson 9mm handgun was located by Sgt. Doug Heppleston, who was assisting with the stop.
 
In addition to the three outstanding warrants, McCoy was booked at the state police barracks in Cheshire on the following charges:
 
1. Unlawful possession of a firearm
2. Unlawful possession of ammunition
3. Unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle
4. Uninsured motor vehicle
5. Revoked registration
 
McCoy was transported to the Berkshire County House of Correction to be held pending his appearance in District Court on Monday.
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Superior Court Briefs: Dec. 13 - Dec. 14

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Wednesday, December 13.
 
Mackenzie Colvin, 24, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with intent to rob, two counts of assault and battery, and a single count of unarmed robbery.
 
He was ordered to serve concurrent three to four years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on the unarmed robbery and assault with intent to rob charge. He was given concurrent time at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the other charge.
 
Colvin robbed Kirk's Variety Store in Pittsfield on January 25, 2017. 
 
Single counts of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, and resisting arrest were dismissed by the state.
 
Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Thursday, December 14.
 
Tyree McKinnon, 38, of North Adams had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of trafficking in cocaine, conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of heroin with intent to distribute - his second offense - possession of suboxone with intent to distribute - his second offense - and possession of clonazepam - his second offense.
 
He was released on $1,500 bail. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant on Houghton Street in North Adams on November 3, 2017.
 
Chastity Phoenix, 36, of North Adams had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on single counts of trafficking in cocaine, and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
 
She was released on personal recognizance. The charge stems from the execution of a search warrant at her home on November 3, 2017.
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