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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Fire Damages Four Acres Restaurant

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Thursday, January 26, 2006

Firefighters work inside the scorched Four Acres Restaurant kitchen after a Jan. 26 morning blaze.
Williamstown – Firefighters from three fire companies were called to the landmark Four Acres Restaurant just before 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 26 and battled a blaze that threatened the eatery and a second-story apartment occupied by Julia Haddad, the mother of restaurateur Michael Haddad.

Town Fire Chief Craig Pedercini said that the fire was reported at 7:20 a.m.. Pedercini was among the first firefighters at the scene, he said.

“I had a lot of smoke in the kitchen area and fire showing at the kitchen doors,” Pedercini said.

The restaurant was closed at the time of the fire.

Pownal, Vt. and Clarksburg firefighters were immediately called to offer assistance at the fire scene, Pedercini said.

Woman Rescued

Julia Haddad was apparently sleeping in the apartment when the fire erupted, and was awakened by a local physician, a passerby, and town police Sgt. Scott McGowan. McGowan said that Dr. Chi Cheung and Shawn Mahoney were driving on Route 2 and stopped at the building after noticing smoke. Pedercini said that the two were pounding on the apartment door when police arrived at the scene.

McGowan said that he was on Main Street when he heard the fire call. An initial report erroneously indicated that the fire was burning at the adjacent Four Acres Motel, which is not owned by Michael Haddad, McGowan said.

“I was on Main Street when the call came in and I was on the scene in about 30 seconds,” McGowan said. “I was able to confirm that it was a structure fire but that it was the restaurant and not the motel.”

McGowan said that Julia Haddad was shaken by the fire and the activity going on around her but appeared unhurt.

One Dog Perished

Two dogs were inside the restaurant building; one dog perished at the scene but the second dog was taken to the Greylock Animal Hospital and at mid-morning, the belief was that the dog would survive, Pedercini said.

The fire was extinguished by about 8:30 a.m., Pedercini said.


Williamstown Fire Chief Craig Pedercini at the fire scene.
Kitchen Destroyed

The kitchen was destroyed by the blaze and the restaurant dining area sustained heat and smoke damage. The apartment sustained some smoke damage, Pedercini said. State Wiring Inspector Stephen Meranti, who is also the North Adams Fire Director, was called to the scene, as was State Fire Marshall’s Office Fire Investigator Michael Mazza. Meranti and Mazza are investigating a cause for the fire and their presence is a routine matter, Pedercini said.

Firefighters remained at the scene during the late morning for clean-up and to monitor for any "hot spots" or fire flare-ups, Pedercini said.

Traffic Diverted, Train Causes Snarl

The westbound lane of Route 2 was closed from Ashton Avenue in North Adams to the western juncture of Adams Road and Route 2, police said. North Adams police diverted westbound traffic over Ashton Avenue but a detour disruption occurred when a train passed over railroad tracks on Ashton Avenue. The passing train caused traffic to back up to the Stop and Shop plaza on Route 2 and additional North Adams police were sent to the area to unsnarl traffic. North Adams police said that the situation was eased within 30 minutes.

Rapid Intervention Team On Stand-By

Pedercini noted that the Clarksburg Fire Department was summoned for its’ RIT, or Rapid Intervention, team. A RIT is made up of firefighters whose sole responsibility is to stand by at a fire scene fully-geared and ready to enter a burning building at a moment’s notice to perform downed firefighter rescue if necessary.

The RIT was not called into action during the fire, Pedercini said. No firefighter injuries were reported during the blaze.

Firefighters from the Bennington, Vt. fire department were called to cover the Pownal, Vt. fire station and Stamford, Vt. firefighters provided stand-by coverage at the Clarksburg fire station.

Village Ambulance Service ambulances were at the fire scene.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
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