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Pittsfield Man Killed Motor Vehicle Collision

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A Pittsfield man was killed early Tuesday morning in a motor vehicle accident on West Housatonic Street. 
 
Michael Lamphear, 54, of East Housatonic Street was westbound on his motorcycle at about 7:48 a.m. when he collided with a Jeep pulling out of the intersection at Osceola Street. The sport utility vehicle was being driven by 25-year-old Abigail Hunt, who was not injured. 
 
The collision occurred in the westbound travel lane of West Housatonic Street. A section of the highway, Route 20, was closed to traffic and detoured. Eastbound tractor trailer units were detoured over Route 41 to West Street. The road was reopened about 1:44 p.m.
 
State Police detectives assigned to the Berkshire district attorney's office are investigating the fatal incident. 
 
Responding to the scene of the crash was Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington, the State Police Detective Unit assigned to the her office, the State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section, as well as the State Police Crime Scene Services Section.
 
The Pittsfield Police Department's Traffic and Detective bureaus also responded, as did the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
     

Lenox Woman Struck Crossing Route 7 on Friday

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — An 85-year-old Lenox woman was struck by a car on South Street, Route 7, on Friday night.

The victim, whose name has not be released, was taken to Berkshire Medical Center by Action Ambulance with what police are describing as "serous injuries." The woman was initially treated at the scene by firefighters.

According to police, officers were dispatched at about 9:36 on Friday night to the area of 1035 South St. for a reported pedestrian accident. There are a number of businesses in that area, including hotels and several eateries.

The preliminary investigation has shown that just prior to the collision, a 2011 Toyota Sienna van operated by Linda Limoges, 53, of Manchester, Vt., was northbound in the vicinity of 1035 South. At this time, the victim was attempting to cross the roadway in an easterly direction, when she was hit by the van.

The Pittsfield Police Department Accident Reconstruction Unit responded to the scene. Officer Michael Silver is the lead investigator in this case. Those who may have witnessed the crash are asked to contact him at 413-448-9700, Ext. 596.
 

     

Video Leads to Animal Cruelty Charge For Pittsfield Woman

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are charging a city woman with animal cruelty after a video of her carrying her small dog by the collar went viral locally.
 
Police say on Sunday at about 9:30 a.m. they responded to a report of cruelty at the First Street Common earlier in the day. Police reviewed video evidence and witness accounts and determined to summons Melinda Alston, 44, to answer for a single count of cruelty to animals.
 
Police said the dog in question was observed and is in good health.
 
A video of the incident had been posted to Facebook showing the woman, police believe was Alston, yelling at the small dog before picking up into the air by the collar. The woman was confrontational with the witness recording the video. The video received numerous comments, shares, and views — and many comments had tagged the Pittsfield Police Department or called to report the incident.
 
Police Chief Michael Wynn on Wednesday afternoon released the statement regarding the charge.
     

Deer Relocated After Getting Stuck in Pittsfield's Downtown

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

MassWildlife was successful in tranquilizing the deer.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Authorities relocated a deer that was trapped downtown.
 
Police received a call of a deer trapped in fencing at First and Fenn Street. The deer then fled to the Brien Center near First and Third Street, where it tucked itself in an alcove behind an air conditioning unit.
 
"We received a call for a deer stuck in fenced-in areas in the downtown. Patrol officers did their best to free it from those fenced in areas but given the congestion and the urban downtown environment, the deer has no way to get back," Police Capt. Matthew Kirchner said.
 
MassWildlife tranquilized the deer and the Massachusetts Environmental Police transported it out of the city's downtown core. The deer is expected to survive.
 
"We were able to safely and humanely dart the animal and relocate it back to the wild safely," Kirchner said. "They'll spend time with her, monitor her, until she is on her own."
 
The deer wouldn't have been much of a concern in other areas of the city but because of the heavily congested location officers had public safety concerns. 
 
"It is a public safety hazard. If it runs out to the street there are car accidents with people trying to avoid it," Kirchner said.
 
MassWildlife rallied the resources needed, including the tranquilizer and nets to keep it from running away after being darted, the Police Department had patrol officers pick up bags of ice to keep the deer cool while being transported. By the time the deer had gotten to that particular location, it had received some minor scrapes and bleeding but Kirchner said there weren't any significant injuries.
 
"We rely heavily on our partners with MassWildlife and Environmental Police and our animal control officers because they are the experts in this field. We lean on them in the direction and best resources available," Kirchner said.
 
A deer rescue from downtown is fairly unique -- and generates plenty of calls to dispatch -- but wildlife rescues are fairly common. More frequently bears find their way into residential areas but the process is the same for deer.
 
"They'll happen periodically throughout the year," Kirchner said.
     

Pittsfield Firefighters Battling Stubborn Building Blaze

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Firefighters are battling a stubborn fire in a four-family home on Tyler Street on Thursday afternoon. 

 
Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said at about 4 p.m. that he expected to be on the scene for at least the next few hours if not all night. 
 
"We've got a very stubborn fire in the attic right now, we're not sure where exactly that fire started," said Czerwinski, an hour or so after the call came in. "It looks like it may have been rolling on the front porch when we arrived and extended up into the attic." 
 
Crews were moving a second aerial truck into the back yard to bring more water to bear on the structure because the truck in the front was having difficulty targeting the area under the dormers where the fire was hottest because of the angle. The area around the dark blue two-story building was filled with smoke and flames could be seen licking from the roofline. 
 
"The building's very unstable, the roof is collapsed. There's a lot of water weight on the floors due to the amount of water we've been putting in there, so were afraid to send people in at this point," the chief said. "We're going to try to continue to knock that down with the aerial devices, defensive operations before we send in a crew to see if there's any more hotspots and everything."
 
Tyler Street is currently blocked off between at least Plunkett and Parker streets. There are at least seven people who have been forced from their home and the Red Cross and other resources have been notified to assist them. 
 
"We believe everybody is out. We were told everybody was out," the chief said.
 
Fire crews from Dalton, Lanesborough and Lenox were called in for mutual aid and Hinsdale Fire Department is sending its rehab truck to provide relief for firefighters at the scene. 
 
The building at 662 Tyler St. is owned by Ronald Marcella Jr. and across the street from the former St. Mary's Church. 
 
"When our first crews arrived ... Engine 1 from out on Dalton Avenue said from Dunkin' Donuts he had heavy smoke showing and then he pulled up, he said, and had fire blowing across all the front porches," Czerwinski said. "We're just at a standstill right now because we can't make an interior access to that attic."
 
Firefighter ran into trouble when the two nearest fire hydrants they tried to hook into were turned off. Police officers, emergency medical technicians and civilians grabbed hoses and ran down the street with firefighters to the next hydrant 500 feet away.
 
A new 8-inch water line is being installed to service St. Mary's, which is being renovated into housing. Part of the project included replacing an older hydrant and installing a new one — but both were off at the time because they were being pressure-treated for leaks. The Fire Department is supposed to be notified when a hydrant is out of the service, but that apparently didn't happen.
 
"We're not sure if the Water Department shut that hydrant down, or if a contractor maybe had shut that hydrant down," the chief said. "But we were not made aware of that. Every morning, we're given a report, a list of what hydrants are out of service and that hydrant didn't come up. Our guys hit it and there was no water — it was empty."
 
The Water Department arrived on scene later and turned the water back on to those hydrants.
 
Czerwinski wasn't sure if the proximity of the hydrant was a factor in fighting the blaze because he wasn't on the scene at the time. 
 
"It depends on what the guys found and how much fire they had," the chief said. "They did get another hydrant from the other direction. So they had a water supply relatively quickly. ...
 
"But it's better if we know if the hydrant is working or it's not working."
 
The Fire Department runs into water issues frequently, though usually because of frozen hydrants in the winter, Czerwinski said. But crews responded quickly and at least 18 firefighters were there and facing heavy fire on the outside on arrival.  
 
"We don't have any idea on how this may have started yet," he said. "We have investigators here waiting to get into the building to see what they can find out about it."

 

     
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