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Fire In Four-Family Pittsfield Building Displaces 15 Residents

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
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The firefighters had to wait until the flames burst through the roof to get access.
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Firefighters were able to knock down the fire after about an hour.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Fifteen people are displaced after a large fire destroyed a four-family Brown Street home.
 
Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said at 7:32 p.m. the department received a call of a working fire in the two and a half story, wood frame building at 48-50 Brown Street. 
 
"They had a fire on the second floor in the back of the building which looks like it auto-extended into the attic area. Our guys could not find an access to the attic. The fire got a good hold inside the attic and was running from end to end. We had to finally wait for the fire to break through the roof itself in order for us to go defensive operations," Czerwinski said.
 
The chief didn't know how many people were home at the time but said all of them had been accounted. A total of 15 people lived in the building and the American Red Cross was on scene to assist them. Czerwinski said there were no injuries.
 
Shortly after the firefighters arrived, the flames broke through the roof and towered high into the air. Heavy smoke filled the neighborhood and brought nearly 100 onlookers to the scene. Police were called to the scene to help manage the large number of pedestrians crowding the sidewalks.
 
Firefighters surrounded and soaked the fire.
 
"The deputy on arrival made this a double alarm fire almost immediately. We've got all the city firefighters that are on duty here. We've got extra companies that have been called in. We also have mutual aid standing by at Pittsfield headquarters," Czerwinski said.
 
Close to 30 firefighters were called to the scene and others stood by waiting to respond if needed. The first responders also faced some trouble when the nearest hydrant wasn't working. Firefighters had to run lines from Tyler Street to the scene instead. 
 
Czerwinski said the size of the building helped strengthen the fire. At an estimated 40-feet by 75-feet, Czerwinski said, "once it got into that attic, it just ran from end to end."
 
Within an hour, about 3/4 of the roof had collapsed. But that posed its own challenges because, "unfortunately that same roof that is designed to keep the water, snow, and elements out, as it fell into the building also kept our water from getting in," Czerwinski said.
 
Around 8:30 the fire was mostly knocked down but firefighters still struggled to get lines on all of the hot spots. Another crew mounted an interior attack, attempting to get into the attic and further knock it down.


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