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Pittsfield Firefighters Snuff Duplex Blaze

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

Firefighters quickly snuffed out the fire in the outside of the building.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Firefighters snuffed out a two-alarm fire on Thursday afternoon as temperature hovered in the low teens.

The blaze began at about 3:15 p.m. in the basement of 38-40 McArthur St., off Onota Street, when the owner of the duplex attempted to fix water pipes using a blowtorch, according to Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski.

The wall caught fire and traveled up to the back of the exterior of the building on the 38 side.

"On arrival, our crews found heavy fire and smoke at the back of the building," said Czerwinski. "It really stayed on the outside and not on the inside. ... The fire really progressed on the outside to to the eaves."  

The owner, who lives on the 40 side, and a woman, who lives on the 38 side, both fled the blaze. Czerwinski said he was not sure how many people lived in the duplex but only those two were home.

Czerwinski added that the smoke damage would likely displace one of the families for a time, while the owner's side did not suffer damage. Two pets were also unharmed in the blaze.

No one was injured although a firefighter who took a took a tumble on the icy surface refused treatment.

"The guys make quick work of it," said Czerwinski.

All the equipment and about 18 firefighters responded, in part because of the frigid temperatures. Mayor Daniel Bianchi was also at the scene.
 

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Multiple Fire Departments Respond to Windsor Blaze

Staff Reports
Flames could be seen coming from the roof of a home on Cheshire Road.

WINDSOR, Mass. — Five local fire departments were braving frigid temperatures  on Wednesday to battle a structure fire at 1061 Cheshire Road.

The blaze was reported at about 3:23 p.m. at the single-family home along the rural road near the town line with Cheshire.

Dalton, Savoy, Worthington and Plainfield volunteer fire departments responded to the scene along with Windsor firefighters.

The home is owned by a James Lewis, according to documents on file at the Registry of Deeds.

Adams Fire Department and Forest Wardens are standing by for Windsor, with a firetruck and a tanker from the Forest Wardens.

Cheshire and Lanesborough departments were also asked to respond at about 5:40 p.m. Peru and Hinsdale, which sent a bus with portable heaters, also responded.

The Red Cross was also going to the scene to provide assistance to the family, two adults and a child.

Red Cross officials say the Lewises are being provided with emergency shelter at a hotel and emergency funds for clothing, food, shoes and winter coats. They were also provided with "comfort kits," which contain toiletries like tooth brushes and razors.
 

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North Adams Regional Reopens After Bomb Scare

Staff Reports
The North Adams Regional Hospital campus was closed for nearly two hours after a bomb scare on Monday.

Update: Police have charged James Lafleur, 55, of Langlois Avenue, Williamstown, with calling in the threat. Lafleur pleaded not guilty Tuesday and was ordered to seek help at the Brien Center. Williamstown Police arrested him at his home on Monday.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — North Adams Regional Hospital was forced to divert patients for nearly 90 minutes on Monday afternoon after a bomb threat was called in.

Police say they have a suspect and that charges will be filed.

Police Sgt. James Burdick said the hospital received the threat at 1:01 p.m.

"It was taken very seriously by the hospital staff here and taken seriously by the police department, the fire department, and ambulance," said Burdick minutes after the campus reopened at 2:40 p.m. "We set up a command center as we should."

Hospital spokesman Paul Hopkins said earlier that the building and grounds were being checked by emergency personnel.

"The investigation is under way and we don't at this time believe the threat to be credible," Hopkins stated in a press release as the hospital reopened. "We do, however, believe all threats to be very serious."

The hospital instituted its own protocols, including notifying police and staff, and restricting access to the building by patients and visitors. An individual who had an appointment with the imaging department said he was turned away after a police officer told him no was being allowed onto the grounds.

The hospital itself was not evacuated and no one was allowed to immediately leave. Cars began to leave the campus shortly before the restrictions were lifted

"The hospital went by their protocols, we all worked together on it and it was resolved in less than two hours," said Fire Director Stephen Meranti. The director said a similar threat had occurred several years ago.

"Obviously, it tied up considerable manpower and resources," Burdick, who added that police have "developed a possible suspect."

An individual in Williamstown who was interviewed by Williamstown Police, according to scanner reports, admitted to calling the hospital in the morning but denied making a call in the afternoon or making any threats to the hospital. Police did not identify the suspect nor is it clear if it is the person police interviewed.

"There's numerous charges that could possibly be brought forward," said Burdick. "We'll have to wait for the investigation and consult with the district attorney's office on possible charges."

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Superior Court Briefs: January 15 - January 16

Staff Reports

Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Wednesday, January 15.

Steven Lesley, 19, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to two counts of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and single counts of armed assault with intent to rob and conspiracy to commit armed robbery while masked.

He was sentenced to six to nine years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction. Lesley assaulted and attempted to rob a 26-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman in Pittsfield on September 10, 2012.

A single count of armed home invasion was dismissed by the state.

Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Thursday, January 16.

Robert Labarre, 24, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to seven counts of knowingly possessing visual material of a child depicted in sexual conduct, five counts of pose of exhibit a child in a state of nudity and two counts of rape of a child with force.

He was ordered to serve concurrent eight to ten years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on the rape charges. He was given concurrent four to five year sentences for the knowingly possessing visual material of a child depicted in sexual conduct and placed on ten years probation on the other charges.

The incidents occurred in Pittsfield between October 1, 2010 and July 12, 2012 and involved a boy who is now nine years old.

Deon Allen, 22, of Waterbury, Conn. was found guilty of single counts of armed robbery, assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and intimidation of a witness or other person.

He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction without bail until sentencing on Jan. 21. The charges were in connection with an incident in Great Barrington on September 15, 2012 and involved a 26-year-old man.

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Pittsfield Police Locate Missing Woman

Staff Reports

Update: Police reported on Friday afternoon that Valle had been found and is safe.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are looking for a 56-year-old woman who went missing Thursday afternoon.

Police sent out a missing persons report Thursday evening asking for assistance in finding Santa Valle. Valle, of Appleton Avenue, was last seen near Dawes Avenue Variety.

She is described as a Hispanic female, approximately 5-foot-2 and 155 lbs. She has blond hair and brown eyes. She is legally blind and has other health issues. She only speaks Spanish. She was last seen wearing a long brown coat, gray skirt, purple shirt and black boots.

Residents are asked to call Police at 448-9700 if they locate her.

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