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Cheshire Home Severely Damaged by Fire

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

Firefighters cut holes in the roof to access to the flames.

CHESHIRE, Mass. — A single-family home on School Street was severely damaged by fire on Thursday afternooon.

Firefighters responded to the call at about 3 p.m. of a fire in the basement.

"When they got here the fire had spread into the walls and up into the ceiling," said Fire Chief Tom Francesconi. "The first crews found heavy smoke, not a lot of fire at first, but when they made entry into the back of the house they found heavy fire near the furnace and in the chimney area."

Francesconi said it took about a 30 to 40 minutes to knock the visible flames down; firefighters were still mopping up at about 4:30.

Lanesborough and Adams fire departments also responded, Dalton covered the Cheshire fire house and North Adams Ambulance brought its rehab unit.

The fire chief said no one was injured but the homeowner's cat was said to be missing. Earlier reports from the scene were that the house was unoccupied at the time, but Francesconi could not confirm that.

According to the documents on file at the Registry of Deeds, the house has been owned by Michael Gallagher since November.

The fire is believed to have started in the basement at the back of the house but the cause has not yet been determined.

"There is heavy smoke damage," said Francesconi, who added he had not yet been inside. But had walked around the perimeter. "The backside of the house has quite a bit of fire damage. ... Definitely a lot of smoke and fire damage on the bottom, as you can see, the bottom skirt area. The fire got into that crawlspace and went right up the walls into the attic."

The fire chief said single-digit temperatures were not a hindrance but were taxing for firefighters. They were taking advantage the rehab unit's heated tent.

"There's heat and everything in the tent, so we've been rotating firefighters in and out of the tent," he said. "It's helped a lot."

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