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Structure Fire Closes Park Street in Adams; Four Families Homeless

By Tammy Daniels
iBerkshires Staff

Complete write-thru at 6 p.m.

ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters from around Northern Berkshire County spent Friday afternoon battling a stubborn structure fire at 72 Park St.

Flames could be seen shooting out from under the roof of the building, which houses Carolyn's Tax Service on the first floor and four apartments on the top two floors, where several young children lived.

It took several dozen firefighters more than an hour to contain the blaze that started in a kitchen on the third floor. Fire Chief Paul Goyette described the smokey blaze as "95 percent contained" about 4 p.m., nearly three hours after it was first reported.

No one was injured in the fire but an Adams firefighter was overcome by heat and taken by ambulance to the hospital.

Park Street was closed to traffic and motorists were detoured at Hoosac and Center streets. Some mutual aid units began leaving about 5:30.

Goyette said the call came in as an alarm activation at about 1:15 p.m. and, when firefighters arrived, they found a fire on a stove on the third floor.

"That fire was extinguished but it appeared to enter the attic through the ductwork," he said.

The building was occupied at the time but Goyette did not know how many people were in the building. Everyone was evacuated from the four apartments, and the building searched. A second search was also done to verify no one was inside. Two cats were removed and treated at the scene with oxygen and a third was found safe after the fire was out.

Heavy smoke roiled from the roof line, occasionally blanketing the town's main street in a smokey haze. Bystanders watched the action from the sidewalks as the street filled with personnel and equipment from seven different departments: Adams, North Adams, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Dalton, Lanesborough and Williamstown. Yellow tape was strung along light posts and signs to keep people out of the way.

The Williamstown and Adams ladder trucks mounted a two-pronged water attack on the roof line and the attic of the three-story building, as flames licked out from the eaves.

North Adams and Adams ambulance services set up a rehab center on the lawn of the Adams Free Library to hydrate and cool firefighters rotated out from the action. State police and sheriff's deputies blocked the street from traffic.

"It took us a good hour to knock the fire down because we had to keep chasing," said Goyette. Above the attic, "we found three layers of attic plus we had to start opening up the roof. It was labor intensive. That was the reasoning for calling in a lot of mutual aid companies to get fresh people here to the staging area."

The temperature hovered around 80 degrees with an infrequent breeze. One firefighter at the base of the ladder truck was overcome by the heat and carefully removed by a swarm of firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

Carolyn and Thomas Chalifoux of Carolyn's Tax Service were on their way to their lake cabin in Vermont went they got the call in Bennington that the building was on fire.

"We turned around and came back," said Thomas Chalifoux, watching from the sidewalk. They were concerned about the computers and files in their offices, but Goyette said firefighters were able to cover everything with tarps.

"Things look good there, it doesn't look like they've lost anything," he said.

Other buildings nearby were emptied as well. Arlene Schneider of the Cutting Edge Salon in the building next door said she didn't know anything was going on until firefighters came in and told she had to evacuate.

Trevor Crombie, who bought the building also known as the Dawson Block in 2004, was at the scene.

A GoFundMe has been set up for one of the families displaced in the blaze. Holly Dix and Mike Burns and their three children were not home at the time but their cat was rescued. Another fundraising page has been set up for Marcus and Heather Moore and their two children.

Firefighters were tossing items out the attic, cutting open the roof and chasing hotspots by 4 p.m. The state fire marshal was being called in to the investigation and the building's occupants were not expected to be able to return. Goyette couldn't say what the damage was at this point. Or when the street would reopen.

"The Fire Department owns Park Street at this point."

 

 

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Williamstown Couple Arraigned in Hit-and-Run Incident

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — An elderly Williamstown couple were arraigned Thursday afternoon in Berkshire Superior Court on charges of covering up a motor vehicle accident that severely injured their neighbor.

John T. Gould and Sally J. Gould of White Oaks Roads enter not-guilty pleas on a host of charges related to the Feb. 9 hit-and-run incident in which pedestrian Cheryl J. Leclaire, 54, was found injured on North Hoosac Road.

Leclaire was taken to Berkshire Medical Center with serious injuries after a passing motorist found her lying by the side of the road.

Sally Gould, 71, was allegedly driving the car that hit Leclaire and her husband allegedly aided her in covering up the incident.

Sally Gould entered a not-guilty plea on leaving the scene of a personal injury accident.

She and her husband, 69, both entered pleas of not guilty on single counts each of misleading a police officer or other person; conspiracy, to wit: misleading a police officer or other person; and conspiracy, to wit: filing a false motor vehicle claim; and two counts each of filing a false motor vehicle insurance claim.

Judge John A. Agostini released both Goulds on personal recognizance.

Police say that after Leclaire was struck on Feb. 9 while walking her dog, the Goulds gave false statements to investigators and filed false insurance claims. Those incidents are alleged to have occurred in Williamstown between Feb. 10 and Feb. 16. They were arrested in late February.

The investigation was conducted by members of the Williamstown Police Department and state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office with assistance from the Massachusetts State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section.
 

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Conn. Woman Charged With Striking Pedestrians in Great Barrington

Staff Reports

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Police have charged an elderly woman for crashing her vehicle into two women and two children while they were crossing the roadway on Friday morning, according to Chief William Walsh.

At about 10:49 a.m., two women, along with an 11-month-old baby girl who was in a stroller and a 3-year-old girl, were crossing in a crosswalk on Main Street at Railroad Street. At the same time, an 87-year-old woman from Canaan, Conn., who was southbound on Main Street, failed to yield and struck all four, said police.

All four were injured and transported by ambulance to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield with non-life-threatening injuries.

The operator, who was the sole occupant of the car, was not injured. She was charged with negligent operation of a motor vehicle and failure to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. She will be summonsed to court at a later date.

Great Barrington Police were assisted by the Fire Department, the Southern Berkshire Volunteer Ambulance Squad, North Canaan (Conn.) Volunteer Ambulance Corps, the Sheffield Police Department and the Monterey Police Department.

The incident remains under investigation by the Great Barrington Police Department.

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Superior Court Briefs: May 23 - May 25

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Monday, May 23.
 
Timothy Lewis, 39, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to single counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, drug violation in a school zone, breaking and entering in the daytime, intimidation of a witness, assault and battery on a pregnant woman, and resisting arrest.
 
He was ordered to serve concurrent two to three years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on the possession of cocaine, breaking and entering, intimidation of a witness, and assault and battery charges. He was given two and a half to three years on the school zone charge. He was given concurrent time at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the resisting arrest charge. In total he'll serve four and a half to six years. 
 
The charges stem from a domestic dispute in Pittsfield on May 4, 2015. A single count of trafficking in cocaine was dismissed by the state.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, May 25.
 
Michael Martin, 34, of West Hartford, Conn. had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute - his second offense - trafficking in cocaine, and drug violation in a school zone.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $15,000 bail. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at Lincoln Street in Pittsfield on March 25, 2016.
 
Albert Kolodziej, 21, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on two counts of rape, two counts of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, two counts of strangulation, and single counts of attempt to commit murder, intimidation of a witness, assault and battery, leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, reckless endangerment of a motor vehicle, and unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $25,000 bail. Kolodiej is accused of assaulting a 25-year-old woman in Pittsfield on April 3, 2016 and was involved in a motor vehicle crash the same day.
 
Lance Joppich, 44, of North Adams had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on two counts of rape, two counts of indecent assault and battery on a person who has attained age 14, and assault with intent to commit rape.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $5,000 bail. Joppich is accused of assaulting an 18-year-old girl in North Adams between March 1, 2016 and April 19, 2016.
 
Matthew King, 34, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to a single count of possession of heroin.
 
He was ordered to pay a $250 fine. The charge stems from a motor vehicle stop in Pittsfield on October 9, 2015.
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Pittsfield Pair Charged With Drug, Gun Crimes On Circular Avenue

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police arrested a juvenile and a 24-year-old man during the investigation of shots being fired in a home on Circular Avenue.
 
Police say Jerrel Hall and the juvenile were arrested on outstanding warrants Monday at about 11 a.m. at a home on Circular Avenue. Police were on scene continuing an investigation of Sunday's shooting and Det. Kim Bertelli-Hund observed several men in the area believed to have active arrest warrants. Two men then fled into a home. 
 
Consent was given to search the home where both were found and arrested on those outstanding warrants. 
 
Additionally, the pair are being charged with possession of a Class A substance - heroin - with intent to distribute, improper storage of a firearm, possession of a firearm without a license, possession of ammunition without a license, and possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number during the commission of a felony. Hall is also being charged with possession of a firearm with a prior violent or drug offense
 
Hall will be arraigned on Tuesday morning in Central Berkshire District Court and the juvenile will be arraigned on Wednesday in Central Berkshire Juvenile Court.
 
The shooting incident on Circular Avenue remains under investigation and anyone with information is asked to contact the detective bureau at 448-9705.
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