Fire In Four-Family Pittsfield Building Displaces 15 Residents
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.
North Adams Fire Damages Central Avenue Duplex
A fire in the walls at 54-56 Central Ave. took time to find and extinguish.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters spent close to two hours tracking down and extinguishing a stubborn fire within the walls of a Central Avenue duplex on Tuesday afternoon.
The blaze started on the backside of the building, between the first and second floors, and sent smoke pouring from windows and eaves of the circa-1900 home. It was called in around 2 p.m.
"It looks like it started in the wall between the two apartments or around the wall between the two apartments," Fire Director Stephen Meranti said. "It got into the ceiling and it went both ways into both apartments."
Firefighters pulled out windows to vent the building and used a chainsaw to cut through the back wall just above the enclosed entryways in the back of 54-56 Central.
"They had quite a bit of smoke and heat on the second floor," Meranti said. "We didn't discover fire until we got into the back wall on the second floor."
The ceiling structure was open between the two halves of the house and the fire made its way above the kitchens.
Acting Fire Lt. Matt Labonte stood in the charred kitchen at 54 Central explained how the fire started on the 56 Central side and burned its way across the ceiling to the other.
"You can see how hot it was in here. We had to do a forced entry," he said. "We got in and we pulled down this tin ceiling right here. That fire was just engulfed in that room. It burned right in that whole ceiling."
There was a fire stop on the exterior wall that prevented the fire from going up through that wall but Labonte thought the tin ceiling was what allowed the blaze to fester and burn through the floor. The joists were gone and a hole opened above the kitchen; on the other side, the wall was burned through to 56 Central.
Meranti said there wasn't a fire stop on the exterior of 56 and the fire made its way up through the wall into the second floor and the attic.
The stairs to the upper floors were in the front of the house and it was difficult for firefighters to navigate their way with hoses up to the second floor. "It wasn't much fire in the attic but it took us a long time to vent the smoke," Meranti said.
The building incurred water, smoke, fire and structural damage. The cause is still under investigation and a fire watch was expected to go through the night to ensure it did not reignite. The property is listed as owned by George Morse III and is managed by Moresi & Associates, which had staff on hand to survey the damage and seal the building.
Only one side of the building was in use and it was believed the occupant was not in the house when the fire was discovered. Rescuers were able to get in to remove pets and the tenant reportedly took one of the dogs to the veterinarian to be checked out.
Central Avenue was blocked off for most of the afternoon. C shift was called in to cover the station and North Adams Ambulance, local and state police, and Clarksburg Fire Department's Rescue 5 responded to the scene.
A Gofundme has been set up to help the tenant, Juli Taylor and her children, who lost most of their belongings in the fire.
Superior Court Briefs: April 24
Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Tuesday, April 24.
Quamel Batchelor, 21, of Springfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: possession of heroin with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, illegal possession of a firearm, illegal possession of a loaded firearm, and improper storage of a firearm.
He was ordered to be held at the Hampden County House of Correction on $1,000 bail. The charges stem from a motor vehicle stop in Pittsfield on January 31, 2018.
Anthony Deordio, 43, of North Adams had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on three counts of knowingly possessing visual material of a child depicted in sexual conduct.
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $2,500 bail. Deordio is accused of being in possession of child pornography between January 28, 2018 and March 27, 2018.
Joseph Mathews, 29, of Pittsfield had a not guilty plea entered on his behalf on a single count of possession of heroin with intent to distribute - his second offense.
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $2,500 bail. The charge stems from a motor vehicle stop in Pittsfield on March 8, 2018.
Jessica Trotter, 41, of Williamstown had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute - her second offense - conspiracy to violate drug laws, and possession of cocaine - her second offense.
She was ordered to be held at the Hampden County House of Correction Chicopee Woman's Facility on $50 bail as she is currently being held on a violation of probation on other charges. The charges stem from a motor vehicle stop in North Adams on April 2, 2018.
Adams Firefighters Battle Apartment Building Blaze
ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters from Adams and Cheshire were able to contain a major structure fire on the thickly settled Maple Street early Thursday morning.
No one was injured in the fire but two dogs were thought to be still inside.
Fire Chief John Pansecchi said he was the first on the scene at 60 Maple St. The blaze was first reported a little after midnight.
"We had heavy fire on the second floor, heavy smoke showing," he said. "There was heavy heat right from the get-go."
Firefighters took up a defensive position and called in Cheshire Fire Department for mutual aid. Clarksburg Fire Department also sent a truck to cover the Adams station.
Pansecchi said the fire was believed to have ignited in a kitchen on the second then worked its way into the attic and through the roof.
The rear upper porch of the double-decker was engulfed in flames by 12:30 a.m. and about an hour later, the roof had burned through. One of the two brick chimneys collapsed, slightly damaging a nearby house. As the blaze was brought under control, thick smoke filled the air.
Firefighters attacked with hoses on the rear and side of the building and used the ladder truck to reach the upper floors. Pansecchi said one hydrant ran out of water and a second one had to be opened. There were some issues in getting the trucks under some low hanging electrical wires that crossed the street to 60 Maple an adjacent house but firefighters were able to maneuver around them.
It was not clear how many people were living in the building, which may have four apartments. Pansecchi said the first floor was occupied and those tenants were able to get out. There was no one in the upper floors at the time of the fire.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. Pansecchi said the state fire marshal was called and would be at the scene later Thursday morning.
The building dates to 1900 and is listed as being owned by MMD Properties LLC. It was most recently sold in 2013.
Adams Ambulance and North Adams Ambulance services set up a rehab tent with water and coffee for the tired firefighters. Pansecchi called them a godsend and said two firefighters were checked out by the emergency medical technicians as a precaution.
"The guys did a great job," the fire chief said. "They worked their butts off."
North Adams Firefighters Save Home From Garage Fire
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A chicken incubator is suspected as the cause of a devastating fire that destroyed a two-car garage and threatened a nearby home on Monday evening.
Firefighters were able to save the home at 1664 South Church St. owned by Paul and Diane Lesure but the garage is a total loss.
Acting Fire Lt. Matt Labonte said the garage was fully involved upon arrival. "So we made our intentions on cooling down the house," he said. "The house was on fire on the back side so we made our hose lines to the house so nothing got inside."
The Dutch-style garage had a full second story that had caved in within a half hour or so of the first calls at around 6 p.m. No one was home at the time and the owners came home to find the blaze already going. They were able to get their dog out of the house.
"It first came in as a garage fire in back of McCann School. We got a few calls confirming it on the way here," Fire Director Stephen Meranti said, adding that the focus was on limiting fire damage to the single-family home and then containing the garage blaze.
"He had a lot of equipment in there, motorcycles in there, a lot of stuff," he said. "We had guys working in both directions to keep it from spreading."
The blaze melted the vinyl siding off the north side and the back of the home and charring could be seen in the rear exterior. The ground was burned around the garage, which was separate from the house and set slightly back on the north side. All that was left of the garage was a pile of twisted metal and debris.
Loud pops could be heard as canisters of fuel or other materials exploded in the conflagration. The house is on the hillside just north of the Adams line but black smoke could be seen billowing from the blaze from the downtown.
Meranti said the cause has yet to be officially determined but he was leaning toward the incubator lamp because there was no other heat source in the building. It contained a woodstove but that hadn't been used in a while.
The Fire Department ran into some trouble with a hydrant located directly in front of the property. Meranti said there was a pressure issue and the Water Department was looking into it.
Firefighters were planning on a fire watch through the night in case the pile or house reignited. The power was shut off and the family was planning to go elsewhere for the night. North Adams Ambulance Service, Wire & Alarm, National Grid, and police also responded to the scene.
There was also a problem with spectators stopping on the road to watch the fire. The road is narrow with little room to pull off and the property was on a hill making access difficult. There was a lot of traffic at the time and those parking along the side made it difficult for the fire trucks to get in. Police shut down that section of road from Wheel Estates to the city line and began turning vehicles around.
"There were a lot of spectators here. We would really appreciate it if they would stay clear of the scene," Meranti said. "We had issues getting apparatus in because there were so many people parking to watch on both sides of the road. ... We need people to stay clear just keep on going."
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