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Massive Fire Destroys Vermont Lumber Yard Building

Staff Reports
STAMFORD, Vt. — Firefighters from five volunteer fire companies spent more than eight hours battling a massive blaze at Eagle Lumber Co. off Route 100.

The fire consumed a 12,000 square-foot structure, known as the process building, at the sawmill at 220 Robillard Ave. Firefighters were on the scene more eight hours containing and dousing the blaze at the family-owned sawmill.

"We don't have a cause ... the state fire marshal will investigate," said Fire Chief Paul Ethier, but there were no indications it was suspicious. "This fire is not suspicious. There is no suspicion here whatsover but we have yet to determine the cause."

The fire was reported at 4:23 a.m. and firefighters arrived just four minutes later to find the fire raging.

"The entire factory was fully involved," said Ethier. "We kept it from spreading to five other buildings."

"It got a good head start on us. We had a good water suply with large diameter hose, so once we got the water established we were in good shape."

Fire trucks from Stamford, Readsboro and Whitingham, as well as Clarksburg and Florida, Mass., lined Robillard in the morning darkness. Hoses snaked up the driveway and across the yard between outbuildings to reach the inferno. Large stacks of lumber and flooring could be seen ablaze inside the building.

A neighbor on nearby Brookside Drive said he was making coffee when the power flickered at about 4:20; he looked out the window and could see the orange glow to the south.

The electrical flickering shut off small appliances throughout town but apparently had nothing to do with the fire but with a problem Green Mountain Power was working on in Readsboro.

The sawmill has long been owned by the Potvin family. The building housed planers, saws and other sawmill equipment, as well as lumber. Ethier said the building was insured but the owners were determining with their insurance company on whether all the equipment was covered.

Firefighters cleared the scene at about 1:30. North Adams (Mass.) Ambulance Service also responded to the fire.

The weather cooperated as snow was light and the temperatures moderate, making fighting the fire somewhat easier. However, slippery conditions caused two injuries — a firefighter and an emergency medical technician — who both took falls. Both were taken to North Adams (Mass.) Regional Hospital. 

More photos here.

Editor's note:  Wording changed referring to the fire chief's comment on not knowing cause of fire to more accurately reflect what he said.

Original Post: 6:46 a.m., Feb. 11, 2012

STAMFORD, Vt. — A massive fire early Saturday morning destroyed a warehouse building at Eagle Lumber Co. off Route 100.

Stamford volunteer firefighters were aided by nearby departments, including Readsboro and Whitingham and Clarksburg and Florida, Mass., in containing the blaze and preventing it from jumping to nearby buildings at the sawmill.

The fire at 220 Robillard Ave. started before 4:30 a.m. and was fully involved when firefighters arrived. The cause was not immediately available and firefighters were expected to be on the scene for some time. North Adams Ambulance was also on the scene.

A neighbor on nearby Brookside Drive said he was making coffee when the power flickered at about 4:20; he looked out the window and could see the orange glow to the south.

Eagle Lumber Co. is a long-held family business operated by the Potvins. The building housed a variety of equipment and lumber, including flooring. Large stacks of lumber could be seen stacked inside the burning building.

More photos here.

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Stolen Property Being Returned to Owners

Staff Reports

LENOX, Mass. — The items held as evidence in the case against burglary kingpin Stefan Veremko are being released to their owners.

The Lenox Police Department has been holding hundreds of items seized in November 2009 from Veremko's home, vehicle and areas where he had discarded the property. Veremko's monthslong spree across three states ended when an off-duty officer spotted him fleeing a building - with a pillowcase. 

Multiple police agencies were investigating the break-ins, which stretched from Southern Vermont to South County. As a result, Veremko and accomplice Tara Malloy were arrested. The recent conclusion of the case convicting Veremko and giving him five- to seven-year state prison sentence allows police the opportunity to return the seized evidence to the many victims involved with this case, said Chief Stephen E. O'Brien.

Many people came to the Lenox Town Hall on Nov. 19, 2009, to view the vast array of items. Some were able to identify items that indeed belonged to them. While conducting this process, during the exit interview, these victims were asked to provide a phone number at which they could be reached at the conclusion of the case.

Within the next several days, the victims who identified property will be receiving a call from the Lenox Police to arrange for the release of their property. All of the property that was identified will be returned to its rightful owner. For victims from the states of Vermont and New York, their property will be released to the police agency having jurisdiction over the crime. The out-of-state agency will make a determination if that property may be released or if it will remain held pending future criminal action against Veremko and Malloy in their states.

"We are asking for everyone's patience as we attempt to relinquish property in an orderly fashion to be certain that each and every victim recoups their loss," said O'Brien. "We also thank everyone involved for their patience as this case made its way through the criminal court system."

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Driver Won't Be Charged in Pedestrian Death

Berkshire News Network

Great Barrington Police have decided not to file any charges against a Stockbridge woman who hit and killed a pedestrian crawling across Route 7 last month. 

Police Chief William Walsh told the Berkshire News Network that preliminary results of the autopsy on the victim, 59-year-old Raymond McQuoid of Lee, revealed that the driver, 33-year-old Julia Berkman of Stockbridge, was not at fault when she hit McQuoid. 

Police said they believed McQuoid had been drinking before the incident and was walking northbound in the southbound lane around 9 that night when he decided for some reason to crawl across busy Route 7. The incident occurred about 500 yards north of the WSBS studios near an auto dealership at the base of Monument Mountain. 

McQuoid, a native of Leicester, resided in Stamford, Vt., for several years and served on the Select Board. He had been a truck driver for LB Corp. He left a wife, the former Danna Nichols, her three children and four grandchildren.

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Stamford Crime Watch Sets Meeting

Stamford/Clarksburg Crime Watch

STAMFORD, Vt. — There is a meeting at the Stamford School at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20, to start organizing our Neighborhood Watch Group. 

Ken Sullivan-Bol will be handing out information and talking about his experience in Washington, D.C., at the National Neighborhood Watch certification class. Join us to discuss what we can do to make Stamford a better and safer community for all.

More information can be found at the Stamford/Clarksburg crime watch site www.towncrimewatch.com.

The community is encouraging anyone with a tip or a lead to speak up and contact the proper authorities. If you see anyting suspicious you must call law enforcement immediately. Call Vermont State Police at 802-442-5421 or Clarksburg Police at 413-663-7795. In an emergency, always call 911.

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Crime Watch Page Created for North Adams

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — There's a new crime watch page on Facebook for city residents.

The page was created by Jennifer Breen Kirsch, a local attorney who's become active in crime prevention after her parents' home was broken into days after Christmas. Kirsch, working with the city and local organizations, has spearheaded the community watch group.

The community effort has been prompted by a wave of break-ins that came to public attention last fall after a number of break-ins in Clarksburg and Stamford, Vt. A suspect believed to be the culprit in the majority of them — and dozens of others through Berkshire and Bennington (Vt.) County — was arrested and charged. However, several of those burglaries have not be resolved and numerous others have occurred in Williamstown, North Adams, Adams and Cheshire over recent months.

North Adams held a community meeting on Thursday night at City Hall to discuss crime and neighborhood action to prevent it.

The new Facebook page states:

Please join the new Neighborhood Crime Watch Group sponsored by Mayor Dick Alcombright, the NAPD through Officer Mark Bailey and Commissioner E. John Morocco, community representative Jenn Kirsch, and the NBCC, through Ashley Benson and Al Bashevkin. To find out more, please post questions and we will quickly reply. Our goal is to reduce the crime rate, as a community, in conjunction with City Hall and the NAPD. We need volunteers and neighborhood captains to run meetings. If you are interested, Officer Bailey, along with members of the team, will conduct a meeting for you and your neighbors, at your home. Let's unite under this common goal to reduce crime in our city!


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