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Williamstown Woman Killed in Pownal Crash

Updated at 3:41 p.m. POWNAL, Vt. — A Williamstown, Mass., woman was killed Friday morning after her sport utility vehicle was totaled in a three-car accident on Route 7. 
 
Kristie M. Kuziel, 54, was taken by medical helicopter to Albany, N.Y., Medical Center, where she later died. 
 
According to state police, a 2004 Hyundai Santa Fe operated by Kuziel was northbound on Route 7 when her vehicle crossed into the left lane in Center Pownal and collided head-on with a southbound 2013 Honda CRV. The energy from the collision forced the Honda into the rear-end of 2016 Ford E45 transit van, which was parked on the southbound shoulder of the roadway. 
 
State troopers responded the report of the crash with a trapped occupant in the Hyundai at about 8:52 a.m. The Pownal Fire Department and Bennington Rescue Squad also responded. 
 
According to State Trooper Shawn Sommers, Kuziel, who was not wearing a seat belt, sustained internal injuries and a broken leg and was flown by medical helicopter to Albany Medical Center. The driver of the Honda, Emma G. Mattison, 26, of Pownal sustained less-serious injuries and was taken to Southwestern Vermont Medical Center by the Bennington Rescue Squad. 
 
No one was in the van. All three vehicles are considered totaled. The highway was closed for 2 1/2 hours and motorists detoured down Center Street. The road reopened around 11:30.
 
No further information was being released at this time.
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Pittsfield Couple Dies In Early Morning Fire

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

The home caught fire shortly before 4 a.m.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — An elderly couple died in an early morning fire on Bryan Street Thursday.
 
Shortly before 4 a.m., an electrical cord short-circuited and set the home at 71 Bryan St. on fire. The three occupants — the couple and their daughter — woke up to heavy smoke on the first floor. The daughter, described as being in her early 30s, escaped the blaze and ran to a neighbors house to call for help. 
 
"She woke up to smoke. She came down the stairs, saw her father, her father told her to get out of the house. She launched herself out of a window, just a short window off of the back deck, she landed on the deck. Our guys got in, they were talking to him, and when they pulled him out he was still breathing," Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said.
 
Firefighters arrived at about 3:55 a.m. and immediately launched an interior search for the couple. The man was pulled out of the building and transported to Berkshire Medical Center, where he later died because of injuries suffered during the fire. Firefighters went back in and got the woman, but she had already died.
 
"We knew we were going into a bad situation, to begin with," Czerwinski said, adding that dispatch had alerted the crews to the entrapment immediately. "On arrival, we had heavy fire showing. The deputy was notified that two people were still inside the residence. That was our first plan of action, to get those people out of there."
 
"Entry crews made their way into the building with thermal imaging cameras looking for the two victims. They located the male victim and brought him out of the building. He was transported to Berkshire Medical Center, where he later succumbed to his injuries. They went back in and found the female victim, brought her out, and unfortunately she was passed away."
 
There are also a number of pets still unaccounted for. Czerwinski said pathways to the exits were clear but the couple, in their 70s, did have handicapped plates and there was a walker found at the scene — though he isn't sure if the walker was for the man or the woman — which could have hindered an escape.
 
The younger woman was treated and released from Berkshire Medical Center and one firefighter strained his back while pulling the victims from the structure. 
 
"First responders, we take this to heart. We take it personally that we can't get in there and get these people out," Czerwinski said.
 
A critical incident stress debriefing team is en route to help the firefighters in the wake of the tragedy. The firefighters had delayed water to the structure in order to perform the rescues.
 
Czerwinski said his department, the state fire marshal and police are all confident that the cause of the fire was the electrical cord. He said it was powering an air conditioner and was plugged into a power strip, which in turn was plugged into an old outlet. 
 
"We believe the cause of the fire to be an electric cord on the first floor, which short-circuited and caught the building on fire. We are unsure if there were working smoke detectors inside the building. We do know there was one working in the basement but we did not hear any on the upper floors," Czerwinski said. 
 
"It was an accumulation of challenges we had — no working smoke detectors, extension cords, electrical fires — and we, unfortunately, lost a couple of lives."
 
The building was "totally destroyed" and the chief expects that it would eventually be razed.
 
Czerwinski stressed the importance of fire prevention, reminding residents to replace fire detectors and avoid potential hazards.
 
"This may not have been averted but it was certainly an opportunity for this challenge not to present itself," Czerwinski said.
 
The names of the victims are not currently being released. According to land records, the home is owned by Raymond and Beverly Kinsella.
 
The last fatal fire in the city was in December 2016, when the same fire crew pulled 72-year-old Herdy Iroth from an apartment above Tahiti Takeout. Iroth later died because of injuries suffered during the blaze.

 

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Pittsfield Firefighters Quickly Knock Out North Street Fire

Staff Reports

The multi-family building is at the corner of North and Edgewood.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield firefighters were able to quickly knock down a fire that started in the back of 823 North St. on Wednesday morning.

Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said crews got the call at 9:11 that heavy smoke was showing at the back of the multi-family house on the corner of Edgewood Road, just north of Berkshire Medical Center. North Street near the hospital was closed temporarily as a result.

"Crews made an aggressive interior attack," said Czerwinski, who said firefighters found "a heavy amount of fire" in the back corner of the first floor but were quickly able to knock it down. 

Not knowing if anyone was inside the building, crews then searched but found no one and were told everyone was out. No firefighters were injured, and the cause is not yet known.

Czerwinski said that while the fire was knocked down quickly, efforts were hampered by what he characterized as a possible "hoarding" situation inside the back apartment.

"There seems to be a lot of stuff in there," he said from the scene after the fire was out.

The building inspector will make a determination on the condition of the building, Czerwinski said, but he said the rest of the house appeared to be intact, with just the one apartment having been destroyed.

"It looks like they got in there quick enough and got it knocked down," he said.

Most of the Pittsfield fire crews were on the scene, but there were enough available to leave some to cover the stations, he said.

"The guys did a great job," he said.

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Phone Scammers Targeting Berkshire County Residents

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Authorities are warning Berkshire County residents about a telephone scam targeting
elderly victims.
 
Berkshire District Attorney Paul J. Caccaviello says several people have fallen victim to the scam in which the caller poses as a relative or the attorney of a relative that has been involved in an accident where someone else has been injured. The caller claims the relative is in need of bail money, legal fees and medical expenses.
 
Those making the fake calls have been operating out of the state of Florida, but the phone numbers they are using have an area code of 202, which is located in Washington, D.C.
 
Caccaviello is asking anyone who may have received such a call or who may receive a call not to comply with any requests to send money and to contact their local police department.
 
The Berkshire Eagle reports that a North Adams women sent some $23,000 in cash to a person in Florida posing as a bail bondsman for a grandson who had purportedly been in a drunk-driving accident. 
 
Anyone requesting immediate cash payments should be considered suspicious; always confirm any situation with an independent source. If someone is calling claiming to be representing a family member or friend, contact that person first before sending any money. 
 
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Adams Police Investigating Possible Hit & Run

ADAMS, Mass. — Adams Police are investigating a Saturday morning accident that left two people hospitalized.

At approximately 1:30 Saturday morning, Officer Nick Dabrowski was responding to Meadow Street near East Hoosac Street to assist Officer Dakota Baker with a motor vehicle stop.

In the vicinity of 20 East Hoosac St., he came upon a man lying on the side of the street. Dabrowski began administering first aid and called for emergency medical assistance.

The individual was transported to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, where he is listed in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

Baker had a motor vehicle stopped near the Meadow Street intersection with East Hoosac Street. It is possible that vehicle may have been involved in the earlier accident.

The operator of that vehicle, a woman, was also transported to BMC and is listed in stable condition.

Anyone who may have witnessed the accident or been in the vicinity of East Hoosac Street early Saturday morning is asked to call the Adams Police Department at 413-743-1212.

Further details will not be released as the incident remains under investigation.

Members of the Adams Police Department are conducting the investigation and are being assisted by state police detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office and the Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section and Crime Scene Service Section of the state police.

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