Structure Fire Closes Park Street in Adams; Four Families Homeless
Complete write-thru at 6 p.m.
ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters from around Northern Berkshire County spent Friday afternoon battling a stubborn structure fire at 72 Park St.
Flames could be seen shooting out from under the roof of the building, which houses Carolyn's Tax Service on the first floor and four apartments on the top two floors, where several young children lived.
It took several dozen firefighters more than an hour to contain the blaze that started in a kitchen on the third floor. Fire Chief Paul Goyette described the smokey blaze as "95 percent contained" about 4 p.m., nearly three hours after it was first reported.
No one was injured in the fire but an Adams firefighter was overcome by heat and taken by ambulance to the hospital.
Park Street was closed to traffic and motorists were detoured at Hoosac and Center streets. Some mutual aid units began leaving about 5:30.
Goyette said the call came in as an alarm activation at about 1:15 p.m. and, when firefighters arrived, they found a fire on a stove on the third floor.
"That fire was extinguished but it appeared to enter the attic through the ductwork," he said.
The building was occupied at the time but Goyette did not know how many people were in the building. Everyone was evacuated from the four apartments, and the building searched. A second search was also done to verify no one was inside. Two cats were removed and treated at the scene with oxygen and a third was found safe after the fire was out.
Heavy smoke roiled from the roof line, occasionally blanketing the town's main street in a smokey haze. Bystanders watched the action from the sidewalks as the street filled with personnel and equipment from seven different departments: Adams, North Adams, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Dalton, Lanesborough and Williamstown. Yellow tape was strung along light posts and signs to keep people out of the way.
The Williamstown and Adams ladder trucks mounted a two-pronged water attack on the roof line and the attic of the three-story building, as flames licked out from the eaves.
North Adams and Adams ambulance services set up a rehab center on the lawn of the Adams Free Library to hydrate and cool firefighters rotated out from the action. State police and sheriff's deputies blocked the street from traffic.
"It took us a good hour to knock the fire down because we had to keep chasing," said Goyette. Above the attic, "we found three layers of attic plus we had to start opening up the roof. It was labor intensive. That was the reasoning for calling in a lot of mutual aid companies to get fresh people here to the staging area."
The temperature hovered around 80 degrees with an infrequent breeze. One firefighter at the base of the ladder truck was overcome by the heat and carefully removed by a swarm of firefighters and emergency medical technicians.
Carolyn and Thomas Chalifoux of Carolyn's Tax Service were on their way to their lake cabin in Vermont went they got the call in Bennington that the building was on fire.
"We turned around and came back," said Thomas Chalifoux, watching from the sidewalk. They were concerned about the computers and files in their offices, but Goyette said firefighters were able to cover everything with tarps.
"Things look good there, it doesn't look like they've lost anything," he said.
Other buildings nearby were emptied as well. Arlene Schneider of the Cutting Edge Salon in the building next door said she didn't know anything was going on until firefighters came in and told she had to evacuate.
Trevor Crombie, who bought the building also known as the Dawson Block in 2004, was at the scene.
A GoFundMe has been set up for one of the families displaced in the blaze. Holly Dix and Mike Burns and their three children were not home at the time but their cat was rescued. Another fundraising page has been set up for Marcus and Heather Moore and their two children.
Firefighters were tossing items out the attic, cutting open the roof and chasing hotspots by 4 p.m. The state fire marshal was being called in to the investigation and the building's occupants were not expected to be able to return. Goyette couldn't say what the damage was at this point. Or when the street would reopen.
"The Fire Department owns Park Street at this point."
Adams Police Warn of Car Break-ins
ADAMS, Mass. — The Adams Police Department is currently investigating several car break-ins. These have occurred over the past several days during the evening or early morning hours.
The breaks have involved mostly unlocked vehicles. If you have any information regarding these breaks please contact police at 413-743-1212.
Here are some safety tips to help prevent car break-ins:
- Always lock your car doors.
- Keep the windows and sunroofs closed when the vehicle is not in use.
- Do not leave the vehicle running and unlocked. Even a locked and running vehicle presents the opportunity for theft.
- Do not leave anything of value in plain sight.
- Do not leave packages or store purchases inside the car. Lock them in the trunk or cover them in the cargo area of your SUV.
- Park your vehicle in a well-lit or open area.
- Report any suspicious activity when and where it is occurring. Do not wait until the next day to report it.
There are no "fool proof" ways of totally preventing car break-ins, said Police Chief Richard Tarsa Jr. However, if you take the extra steps it limits the opportunity of it happening to you.
Adams Head-On Collision Results in Fatality
ADAMS, Mass. — A 17-year-old North Adams man was killed in a head-on collision early Saturday evening on North Summer Street. Three other people were injured.
Zackary Decker, a student at Drury High School, suffered severe injuries to his head and neck after being ejected from vehicle he was in. He died shortly afterward at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield.
"It is with profound sadness that I write this letter to the community of the North Adams Public Schools," wrote Superintendent James Montepare on the North Adams Public Schools' website on Monday. "Zackary Decker, a student at Drury High School, died as a result of injuries from an automobile accident Saturday evening. On behalf of the district I extend our sympathies to his family, friends and classmates."
It was also stated that grief counseling and support services were being provided to any students or staff members in need. Information on grief and trauma was also provided for parents and students on the website. Montepare said there would be a team of school counselors and that the North Adams Police Department would ensure that "school is a safe environment for your children."
The crash was reported at 5:14 p.m. on Saturday, near the intersection with Staple Street.
According to police, Gregory Bartlett of Lime Street was southbound on North Summer in his 2014 Mazda when James Morandi of Hall Street, North Adams, veered into his path in a 1999 Toyota Corolla.
Decker's name and condition were not immediately available on Saturday night; police confirmed there was a fatality on Sunday. Two others were taken by ambulance to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield and the fourth was taken by a relative.
The state police accident reconstruction team and Crime Scene Services were requested. The accident is under investigation by Adams Police and state police detectives.
Morandi is a student at Berkshire Arts & Technology Public Charter School; his other passenger has not been identified. Bartlett was the sole occupant in his vehicle.
Officer Michael Wandrei said charges are expected to be filed once the investigation is completed. "We have a lot to go through first," he said.
Adams Ambulance Service, North Adams Ambulance Service and the Adams Fire Department responded to the scene. That section of road was closed until the vehicles were removed at about 8:30 p.m.
Adams Police Arrest Suspect in Bus Shooting
Update at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, March 5:
According to a statement from the Adams Police Department, Bailey Hisert, 20, of Adams was arrested Friday for shooting out windows on two buses.
He was charged with single counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, malicious destruction of property over $250 and disorderly conduct. He is further facing three counts of assault with the dangerous weapon.
Further charges may be pending. The investigation is still continuing at this time. Hisert is currently being held on $25,000 dollars bail.
Police say reports that two buses were possibly shot out were received at 2:22 p.m. on Friday. The reports indicated that a window on each bus had been shattered and a "popping noise" was heard upon impact.
Officers were deployed to the area, which was contained and isolated. During the investigation it was quickly determined that a firearm was not involved and that the damage sustained was caused by a BB or pellet gun.
According to the report, "there were no involved parties injured. The incident was isolated to one specific location. Because of the fact that the area in question was quickly isolated with all traffic being rerouted, it did not present any danger to the other buses, vehicle traffic or neighborhood residents. The quick containment of the area allowed the proper busing of students to continue. At no time were any other buses in harm's way and as stated this was an isolated incident which was quickly contained."
The Adams Police Department was assisted by the North Adams Police Department and its director, state police and Crime Scene Services, members assigned to the Berkshire County Special Response Team, the Adams Ambulance Service, the North Adams Ambulance Service and representatives from DuFour Bus Co.
Update at 5:27 p.m.: Police Chief Richard Tarsa said the weapon used was a BB gun and that the suspect, whom he did not identify, had turned himself in.
"Two school buses that were on their routes were struck by an object that was found to be a projectile from a BB gun," he said. "We have one [person] in custody and the suspect admitted to it so we're very confident we know what happened."
The police chief said the incident is still under investigation even though a suspect is in custody.
"It's still a fluid scene," he said, adding that further information will be available on Saturday.
"The most important thing is no one got hurt."
Responders included the special reaction team, or SRT, which brought heavy equipment and includes representatives from local police departments. Also at the scene was North Adams Police Director Michael Cozzaglio and state police, as well as North Adams Ambulance.
Update at 5:11 p.m.: Adams Police have confirmed that an individual has been arrested in relation to the bus incident.
There were two buses involved but no one was injured.
(Update later Friday evening) One bus was from St. Stanislaus Kostka School on Summer Street. Principal Linda Reardon said in an email that parents were contacted and there were no children on the bus at the time. Children who live in the Lime Street area were picked up by parents; other children who would have taken that bus were either picked up by parents or taken home on a different bus.
The other bus had completed dropping off Hoosac Valley High students, according Adams-Cheshire Superintendent Kristen Gordon. The only occupants were the bus driver and the driver's child at the time of the incident.
ADAMS, Mass. — The area around Lime Street and North Summer is being limited to traffic after the report of a suspected shooting, possibly a BB gun, at a school bus.
It does not appear there were any injuries.
The incident reportedly happened shortly after 3 p.m., according to a parent whose child was on the bus. The bus is believed to have immediately returned the school.
Police have not confirmed that report but have stationed law enforcement, including Pittsfield Police and members of the Berkshire County sheriff's department, and emergency responders in the area.
A source at the scene said the incident was weapons related but there is no currently active shooter.
Heavily armed police are searching the neighborhood.
A resident of North Summer Street posted on Facebook that police and a K9 unit have that street blocked and told a neighbor to back into the house because the area is not safe.
A command post has been set up at the east end of Lime Street near Print Works Drive.
Adams Family Credits Dog With Fire Warning
ADAMS, Mass. — The Adams Fire Department extinguished a fire on Apremont Street after, according to the owner, the family dog warned the family of the blaze.
Fire Chief Paul Goyette said Monday afternoon firefighters responded to a structure fire on 15 Apremont St.
Goyette said nearly 50 percent of the attic was damaged, however, smoke alarms were activated and everyone got out safely.
"We knocked down the fire within 15 minutes then we cleaned it out and salvaged a lot of their belongings for them," Goyette said. "It was a very good stop, and all parties involved work together for a good outcome."
He added that salvage blankets were used to save much of the furniture in the home.
According to a post on Pooches Dog Grooming's Facebook, Levi the dog warned owner Karen Frietag of the fire and the family was able to escape the blaze.
Pooches Dog Grooming, located on Eagle Street, is accepting donations to help the family.
Goyette could not confirm if the dog did actually alert the family, but said in most cases the smoke alarms go off and alert dogs.
Goyette added that a North Adams engine helped extinguish the fire and the Cheshire Fire Department covered the Adams station.
He said the cause of the fire is under investigation.