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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Williamstown Fire Sends Two To Hospital

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Thursday, July 20, 2006

Williamstown Assistant Fire Chief Robert Briggs [at left]and additional firefighters at the scene of a July 20 fire.
Williamstown - A July 20 mid-afternoon 63 Hoxsey St. fire damaged a three-story house, displaced about five tenants and sent two police officers to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.

Sgt. Scott McGowan and police Officer Preston Kelly were taken to North Adams Regional Hospital for evaluation as a precaution, said town police Chief Kyle Johnson. During a late afternoon interview, Johnson said neither officer was believed to be seriously injured.

The fire started in a 6' x 12' second floor bedroom and its' cause is under investigation, according to town Assistant Fire Chief Robert Briggs.
The building is owned by Dagmar Bubriski, who lives in a separate Hoxsey Street residence.


Building tenant Jenny Chen discovered a second-floor fire at 63 Hoxsey St..
First floor tenant Jenny Chen, a student at Williams College, discovered the fire when she arrived home at about 2:50 p.m..

"I came home from work and our smoke detector was shrilling," she said during a fire scene interview. "Smoke was coming down the stairs."

Chen said that she ran upstairs and began knocking on doors and calling to other building occupants. No one else was in the building, she said.

While on the second floor, she noticed that an abundance of smoke was rolling from beneath the door of apartment number four.

"I noticed that the smoke was coming forcefully out that door," she said. "I ran and called the police and they came. It was a pretty quick response."

Johnson and McGowan were at the Hoxsey and Main streets intersection when the fire was reported, Johnson said. He and McGowan immediately traveled to the house and Kelly arrived moments later, followed by a town fire engine and firefighter Steve Fisk.

"Scotty and I were right there at the intersection and we could see the smoke," Johnson said.

Fisk grabbed a police department fire extinguisher, ran up to the burning apartment and broke through the door, Johnson said. McGowan and Kelly assisted Fisk by carrying hose from the truck into the building. The officers were not outfitted with breathing gear.

"These two police officers went above and beyond the job," Briggs said, and emphasized that the fire "was hit pretty good" during the initial firefighting moments.

"I know I appreciate it," he said.

The fire produced a hot, thick smoke, Briggs said.

Briggs said that additional firefighters arrived very quickly after Fisk. Mutual assistance was requested and provided by members of Pownal, Vt. fire companies and the Clarksburg Volunteer Fire Department. Pownal firefighters traveled to the scene and Clarksburg firefighters provided coverage at the town's Water Street fire house, Briggs said.

Most of the damage was confined to the burned bedroom, with some smoke and water damage impacting other parts of the building, Briggs said. The cause of the fire is under investigation but is not considered suspicious, Briggs said.

"It was a good job done by a lot of people," Briggs said. "The first crews in took a beating [due to heat and smoke]."

The building occupants were expected to be displaced overnight, Briggs said. Firefighters were at the scene until past 5 p.m..

Town Fire Chief Craig Pedercini was out of town when the fire erupted. He was expected to return to town later in the day, Briggs said.

Bubriski walked to the damaged building after the fire was extinguished. She said she had not been inside the building yet. The building is insured, she said.

Third floor apartments were vacant, Bubriski said. The tenant of the burned apartment is a Williams College student who lives on campus during the academic year, she said. The student rented the same apartment during the 2005 summer, Bubriski said.

Bubriski said that she is happy that Chen arrived home before the fire spread throughout the building.

Chen said that the fire definitely changed her afternoon plans.

"I just wanted to take a nap, and my house was on fire," she said.

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