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Great Barrington Police Investigate Motor Vehicle Accident

Great Barrington Police

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. – Police, Fire Department and Southern Berkshire Ambulance responded to a motor vehicle accident with multiple injuries on Wednesday night on State Road in front of Plaza Package.

The accident, which was reported at 5:01 p.m., involved a 2003 Subaru operated by Ronald J. Fonte, 44, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and a 2001 Audi operated by Dennis G. Gibbons, 31, of South Egremont.

Fonte was uninjured in the crash; however, Gibbons and his two passengers required treatment at area hospitals. Gibbons and passenger Jeremy Martel, 36, of Sheffield were transported to Fairview Hospital by Southern Berkshire Ambulance. Gibbbons' other passenger, Cody Kickery, 26, of Great Barrington, was transported by Southern Berkshire Ambulance and County Ambulance paramedics to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield.

No information on their status is available at this time.

Initial investigation by Officer Daniel Bartini revealed that Fonte attempted to turn left into Plaza Package in front of Gibbons' vehicle, resulting in a head-on collision. At this time, no charges have been filed and the accident remains under investigation.

Anyone who may have witnessed the crash is requested to contact police at 413-528-0306.

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Pittsfield City Councilor Arraigned In Superior Court On Drug Charges

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — City Councilor Paul Capitanio pleaded not guilty to single counts of accessory after the fact, to wit: distribution of oxycodone and conspiracy to violate drug laws, to wit: possession of oxycodone.
 
He was released on $500 bail - the same bail transferred from the District Court. Capitanio appeared in court Wednesday after being indicted in Superior Court on the charges.
 
Capitanio is accused of providing an oxycodone supplier with information concerning the Berkshire County Drug Task Force raised between April 29, 2013 and April 30, 2013. He is also accused of conspiring with others to possess oxycodone between March 3, 2013 and April 30, 2013.
 
The court set a January 16, 2014 pretrial conference.
 
The Ward 3 Councilor did not seek reelection but has returned to the City Council after taking one week off after being initially charged.
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Superior Court Briefs: October 30 - October 31

Staff Reports

Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, October 30.

Shaun Koonce, 33, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of trafficking in cocaine, possession of heroin with intent to distribute - his second offense - and possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card.

He was released on $3,500 cash or $35,000 surety bail. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at his home on September 12, 2013.

Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Thursday, October 31.

Dennis Hall Jr., 33, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of attempt to commit a crime, to wit: armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

He was released on personal recognizance and the charges stem from an incident that allegedly occurred in Pittsfield on March 16, 2013.

Jeff Burdick, 33, of North Adams had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on two counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, two counts of oxycodone with intent to distribute and a single count of conspiracy to violate drug laws.

He was released on personal recognizance. Burdick allegedly possessed the drugs with intent to sell them in North Adams between March 156, 2013 and April 7, 2013. He also allegedly conspired with others to sell cocaine and oxycodone between March 3, 2013 and April 30, 2013.

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Lanesborough's Foam House Burns Down

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
A fire completely destroyed the National Street home. At left as seen in a realty advertisement.

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The foam house on National Street  burned to the ground Thursday afternoon.

The seasonal home is somewhat of a local landmark. The foam created a rounded, bubble-like appearance which led many to dub it  "The Flintstone House."

According to Fire Chief Charlie Durfee, firefighters responded to the fully engulfed structure fire shortly after 2 p.m. on Thursday.

The house, a wooden structure encased in foam, was already mostly burnt and the firefighters launched a "surround and drown" attack to prevent the flames from damaging nearby properties.

"I was on Narragansett Street, came around the corner and saw this house fully involved and called in a structure fire," Durfee said. "It's the foam house at the bottom on National Street and was built right around 1972."

The foam fueled the fire and the focus was on protecting nearby properties, Durfee said. The flames were so hot that they dried up leaves wet from the rain and threatened to spread. Pieces of foam flew in the sky and littered nearby properties.

The electric was shut off after the wires caught fire.

Durfee said he immediately called in support from Cheshire and Pittsfield and attacked the fire from both National Street and from Imperial Street — which runs parallel — to put out the flames in about 45 minutes. County Ambulance responded on scene as well.

The building at 45 National St. is used seasonally and no one was there at the time. It is owned by Denise Barrierre of Rhode Island. The small structure had one bedroom and one bath and was about a 1,000 square feet in size.

It was built in the 1970s with foam with a focus on being energy efficient. There were no firefighters injured in the process of knocking down the flames during the heavy rain.

The cause is undetermined after a fire inspector arrived on the scene Thursday afternoon.

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Fire Destroys Unit in Pittsfield Retirement Community

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A residential unit in Salisbury Estates was heavily damaged by a two-alarm fire on Tuesday morning.

Deputy Chief Michael Polidoro said the roof blaze, which could be clearly seen from nearby streets, was called in 10:34 a.m. by a neighbor reporting smoke from the unit at 8 Baver Drive.

"On arrival, we had heavy smoke pushing out of the eaves of the building, from both ends of the gable," said Polidoro. "In the crawlspace above, we found heavy fire."

The deputy chief called in a double alarm because the potential for the fire to spread rapidly through the attic crawlspace that connects the units.

"We kept it contained to that particular unit ...  It's all wide open up there so it could have traveled the whole length," he said. "I needed the manpower and the equipment here to do that."

Firefighters on the scene searched the home to ensure it was vacant; Polidoro believed that only one person lived in the residence and that he or she had left earlier in the morning.

He roughly estimated the fire damage at $150,000 but could not say if the structure would have to be completely razed.

"There is heavy structural damage to the roof, it has a trussed roof which makes it more susceptible to fire ...  they collapse a lot quicker and it makes it very dangerous," said Polidoro.

Because of the roof damage, a upper wall was being removed to allow firefighters access to the building. "It's too dangerous to work underneath it because of the fire damage," he said. "It presented a collapse issue so it's easier to take the wall off."

At least three other units sustained smoke damage. The building and wire inspectors, as well as the department's fire investigation unit were at the scene.

Polidoro said there was no indication the blaze was suspicious, but "when no one is home [when a fire starts] we like to do a thorough investigation to determine cause."

One firefighter incurred minor injuries in what the deputy chief described as "slips, trips and falls" that happen in these situations.

Salisbury Estates is a retirement community offering independent and assisted living for adults age 55 and older, operated as a subsidiary of Berkshire Health Systems with Kimball Farms.

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