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North Adams Emergency Vehicle Gutted by Blaze

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS — North Adams Ambulance Service's newest vehicle went up in flames on Monday morning less than a year after being put in service.

The fire occurred at about 6 a.m. on Labor Day as a patient was being transported north on Church Street from Windom Terrace to North Adams Regional Hospital.

"They got to around the library and smoke started to fill the cab," said service manager John P. Meaney Jr. on Monday evening. The two emergency medical technicians pulled over and got the patient out of the ambulance and away from the vehicle as flames began to shoot out of it.

The Fire Department was called to the scene and another ambulance arrived to take the patient to the hospital. Meaney said no one was injured but the $95,000 ambulance "is a total loss."

The blaze apparently began inside the cab behind the driver's seat where a electrical wiring hub is located. The cab was gutted and the box section of the ambulance above and to the side of the driver's seat was heavily damaged.

Photos by George Beckwith
Above, the cab of the ambulance was heavily damaged by fire; below, the heat caused the plastic light covers in the bay to droop.
The fire burned so hot that there was concern about the oxygen tanks inside, said Meaney, who was out of town when the fire occurred.

"It looked like it got really hot," he said, and burned a hole through the side of the box, possibly from an oxygen line. "It looks like that hole maybe burned off the oxygen."

Ambulance No. 3 was placed in service last October and had 16,000 miles on it. In addition to the vehicle itself, the ambulance service lost thousands of dollars in equipment.

The EMTs were able to save the new computer in the cab, the automatic external defibrillator and a few other items, said Meaney. "The radio is a total loss, that's a few thousand there, but a lot of the major-expense equipment we could save."

He said the insurance company has already been contacted and should cover the vehicle; the service also has umbrella insurance to cover the equipment. He wasn't sure if the insurance company would investigate the cause. "I don't necessarily know if we'll ever know what started it."

The ambulance was purchased from Yankee Fire and Rescue Inc. in Palmer. Meaney said he hoped to order a new ambulance by the end of the week; it could take about a month for delivery. In the meantime, he'll ask the company if it has a loaner that can be used until a new vehicle is in service.

The loss of No. 3 won't affect the ambulance's ability to cover the city, he said, because the service normally operates two vehicles — the third is a back up.

"I'm just glad nobody was hurt. The ambulance and equipment, those can be replaced," said Meaney. But, he added, "we were proud of that ambulance."
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