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Camper Destroyed By Fire at Lanesborough Campground

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — A camper at Mount Greylock Campsite Park was completely destroyed by fire Friday evening, on the first day of the season.
 
According to Fire Chief Charlie Durfee, the owner of the camper had arrived that day, set up the camper, put her stuff inside, and then left to go shopping. While she was out, the camper caught fire and the fire took off from there to a point firefighters had no chance of saving it.
 
"There was black smoke billowing in the sky, fully involved, we called Hancock Fire Department for their tanker. We had their tanker, our tanker, and our two engines," Durfee said.
 
Durfee said there was a threat of attached propane tanks and Capt. Cody Sanderson had arrived first, removed those, and moved them away from the scene. But the fire had already been going too strong that firefighters could just put it out with no chance to save it.
 
The camper was toward the top of the hill of the Scott Road campground, with a narrow dirt road leading to it. There are no hydrants anywhere nearby.
 
"The challenges are, there is no water. We are up in the middle of nowhere. And campers are like a mobile home, they go up like that. It's minutes and they are gone. Nine out of 10 times you will never ever save a camper or a mobile home fire," Durfee said.
 
Campground owner Gordon Hubbard said the owner does have insurance on the camper. Interestingly, this is the first year Mount Greylock required all who lease sites to have insurance on their campers whereas before it was optional. Hubbard said in this case, the owner has carried insurance on it for years.
 
Nonetheless, the fire is "devastating" for the owner, Hubbard said, because the woman had lost everything she had put in it.
 
"Everything she has in there is gone, a total loss," Durfee said.
 
Durfee said he doesn't know what caused the blaze but if he had to guess, it was probably electrical.
 
"We'll never know what caused it. It is so burnt, we'll never know," Durfee said.
 
Hubbard praised the work the volunteer fire department did given the circumstances, saying they arrived quickly and put out the fire.
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Animal Cruelty Case Continued Without Finding

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A local man was given a continuance without a finding after killing a 10-month-old puppy.
 
Coty Dakin, 29, had entered to an admission to sufficient facts plea to a single county of animal cruelty on March 12. The case was continued without a finding for one year. Police had accused Dakin of crushing the skull of his girlfriend's 10-month old Chihuahua, Chichi, in Lanesborough in 2017.
 
Police said on Nov. 20, 2017 officers were dispatched to the girlfriend's home for a disturbance during which it was reported that Dakin had killed his girlfriend's dog. Police said Dakin was asked about the incident and he claimed he kicked a chair into the wall and accidentally killed the dog. 
 
"He explained that he had found that the dogs made a mess in the living room and he was cleaning it up when he became angry. The dogs ran and hid behind a reclining chair at which time he kicked the chair into the wall. He stated he heard one of the dogs yelp so he moved the chair away from the wall to find the dog bloody and not breathing," reads the police report.
 
However, officers sent the puppy's body to Forensic Veterinary Investigations in Boston for necrology and Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore said the injuries did not align with that story.
 
"The constellation of injuries in this 10-month-old Chihuahua puppy are consistent with manual crushing of the skull during ineffective 'wringing' of her neck (manual dislocation of the head from the neck by applying torsional forces). In my opinion, rather than dislocating the head from the first cervical vertebra, the skull crushed and shattered under considerable manual force," the report reads.
 
"The shattering of the bone at the base of the skull pierced into the oropharynx causing the bleeding from the nose and mouth. The shattering bone at the skull compromising the inner/middle left ear cause the bleeding out of the left ear ...
 
"In my opinion, Chichi's death was accompanied by intense pain and suffering."
 
The multi-page report debunked Dakin's story and Smith-Blackmore determined that the injuries "are inconsistent with an accident crushing injury between a piece of furniture and the wall."
 
Friends reported trying to get Dakin to seek psychiatric help and witnesses who were there that day cited a few things that did not quite seem to back Dakin's story, such as a lack of blood in the supposed chair area and the number and severity of the injuries to the dog.
 
Police returned to question Dakin further about the incident and the findings but Dakin maintained his story. However, police said that between Dakin's admission of kicking the chair into the wall, admitting to having anger problems and "coming to a boiling point that day," admitting he did not want the dog in the first place, and the necropsy report,  warranted the charge.
 
The case has been going through the district court process for about a year and ultimately Judge Jennifer Tyne agreed to the continuance without a finding.
 
In a follow-up letter, the owner of the dog wrote about the pain of losing Chichi and the impact it had on her children.
 
"There's not much I could say that could describe the hurt I felt then and still do, it isn't something that can just be erased and whereas I've felt so many emotions in this matter from anger to loss, sadness, and even guilt. Still, I feel that no judgment is going to bring back what we lost, it isn't going to fix what's already been broken," she wrote.
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Lanesborough Police Seeking Info on Vape Shop Break-in

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Police are asking looking for help in identifying a group of individuals who broke into Uniq Vape on South Main Street and stole upward of $9,000 worth of products.
 
Police were notified of a burglar alarm at about 3:10 a.m. on Wednesday. Upon arrival, police found a side door kicked in with two muddy footprints on it. The store was in disarray and a glass display was destroyed. 
 
According to police, video footage shows two parties checking the doors at about 2:49 a.m. and then returning 25 minutes later and kicking in the door. Those two were then joined by four others who ran through the store taking items. Those involved got into a vehicle and left and a K9 search was unable to track them.
 
"We reviewed the security camera footage and observed at 2:39 a.m. what appears to be two males, one wearing black and/or grey Adidas brand striped pants and sweatshirt, and the other wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt with a red Under Armour logo approached the building and attempt to gain entry through the front windows. After failing to gain entry from the front, the two parties walked around the building trying other windows before appearing to leave the area," reads the police report filed by Officer Ben Garner.
 
"A short time later at 3:04 a.m. the same previously described parties return to the building and one kicked in the south-facing side door. Immediately after the two males enter the building, four more parties ran from behind the BP gas station directly to the south and entered the building also. All six parties took various items from  the store before exiting through the same door and running back behind the BP gas station."
 
Store owner Syed Quaseem provided police with surveillance footage of the incident and authorities are asking anyone with information to contact them at 413-443-4107.

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Man Rescued After Getting Stuck in Lanesborough Cave

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Firefighters freed a man stuck upside down in a cave off Silver Street on Saturday night.
 
Fire Chief Charlie Durfee said the local man had slipped on wet rocks at about 9:15 p.m. while checking out a cave behind 96 Silver St. and fell head first into the cave opening. Durfee said the man was attending a birthday party when he and a friend took a walk to look at the caves.
 
He was stuck there for about two hours while the Western Mass Technical Rescue Team worked to free him.
 
"He was probably in the hole for about two hours," Durfee said.
 
More than a dozen local firefighters who serve on the technical rescue team was joined by another dozen from the Lanesborough Volunteer Fire Department on the call.
 
Durfee said he also received assistance from Dalton Fire Chief Gerald Cahalan and Pittsfield Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski. Durfee added that another one of the partygoers is a paramedic in another town and kept the man calm as they waited for first responders to arrive.
 
"It was tedious getting to where he was," he said. "It was a great team effort."
 
Durfee said freeing the man proved to be tricky because rescuers couldn't simply lift him out. But eventually, using a number of ropes, harnesses, and other tools, the man was freed and taken by County Ambulance to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield. He suffered only a laceration on the back of his head.
 
"These guys are highly trained in tactical rescues," Durfee said.
 
There are some 58 caves in Lanesborough and about half of them are located in the Silver Street area. But this the only cave rescue Durfee can remember.
 
"We've never had a cave rescue in the 37 years I've been on the department," he said. 
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Special Response Team Called To Lanesborough Home

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

Bailey Road was closed from Route 7 to Noppet Road nearly all day.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Bailey Road was closed for close to eight hours Tuesday after a man barricaded himself inside a home.
 
Police said a Bailey Road resident called at about 11 a.m. to report that another household member was "shooting in the house and out the window." The reporting party then fled to a neighbor's house.
 
Lanesborough Police, state police, and the Berkshire County sheriff's department set up a perimeter around the house and police, with the help of Lanesborough's Highway Department, shut down Bailey Road from Route 7 to Noppet Road. Traffic was diverted throughout the day around Brodie Mountain Road. 
 
The Berkshire County Special Response Team was called and relieved the initial responders. Police then made multiple attempts to reach the individual through crisis negotiators with the Special Response Team and the State Police Crisis Negotiators Unit but were unsuccessful. 
 
For hours, police could be heard through a megaphone calling on a man to exit the home. After nearly six hours without contact with the individual, the Special Response Team entered the residence. 
 
The scene was then turned over to detectives with the state police assigned to the Berkshire County district attorney's office, and the State Police Crime Scene Services Unit.
 
Bailey Road was re-opened to traffic at about 7 p.m. Officers from Lanesborough, Pittsfield, Lee, Lenox, North Adams, Adams, the Massachusetts State Police, and the Berkshire County Sheriff's Department assisted on the scene.
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