NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Multiple fires were apparently deliberately set throughout Sullivan School on Friday night.
"There was more than one fire on more than one level," Fire Director Stephen Meranti said late Friday after firefighter has spent some two hours tracking down the blazes and ventilating the multilevel elementary school.
The state fire marshal was called to investigate and state police were also at the scene. Meranti said nothing was being ruled out. However, he was sure it was not electrical — the department had been responding to a number of calls related to alarms and wires after heavy rains blew through in the afternoon.
Mayor Richard Alcombright, who was at the scene for a time, said he would be awaiting the results of the investigation by the state fire marshal and the city's police force, and will assess the damage.
The call came in shortly after 8 p.m. of smoke on the roof of the school, which is tucked away off Kemp Avenue. That was confirmed, according to scanner reports, by a member of the Stamford, Vt., Fire Department.
Heavy smoke could be seen through the windows of the lobby. When the doors were opened and the windows in the cafetorium smashed, dark smoke billowed out of the building about 8:30.
No flames could be seen from the outside but firefighters found and doused fires as they searched the interior of the vacant building.
"It's very manpower intensive, it's not a very big fire but because of the size of the building and trying to search the entire building, and try to extinguish the fires as they went along. it was a pretty involved operation," Meranti said.
Firefighters used three thermal imagers — one man holding and others on the team following — to track down the fires in the smoke-filled building.
The four-story masonry building, constructed in the mid-1960s as East School to answer the city's baby boom, has been empty for nearly two years since the opening of Colegrove Park Elementary School. The $51,000-square-foot structure is for sale but has been used for storage by the School Department.
The School Department has been securing the building and there has been a number of acts of vandalism in breaking windows. Those are have been boarded up but Meranti said there were a couple of spots on Friday night that someone could have gotten into the building.
There were also four fire extinguishers lined up on the left pole of the lobby portico. Those were there when firefighters arrived and Meranti said it is not known who left them.
The fire director said some of the materials still inside the school were burning in the fires. The largest was in the cafetorium in the front of the building where stacks of boxed up ceiling tiles were stored by the stage.
He said there was a lot of smoke damage in the building and that the department was still forcing smoke for affected areas. A lot of the damage, particularly in the cafetorium, was to the materials being stored there.
Once the extent of the situation was realized, all off-duty firefighters were called in and Adams Fire Department covered the city's station.
North Adams Ambulance Service provided water and supplies; Clarksburg sent a truck to fill air bottles.
"We went through a lot of bottles because there's a lot of areas to cover," Meranti said.
He said firefighters would be at the building for the rest of the night. It was not clear when more information would be available.
"This is an active investigation," he said.
North Adams Fire Battles Eagle Street Blaze
By Tammy Daniels iBerkshires Staff
Flames were pouring out of the second floor of the building.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A Victorian on Eagle Street sustained extensive damage after it broke out in flames on Saturday night.
The second floor of the large circa-1900 home at 243 Eagle was in flames when the first emergency responders arrived at the scene.
"We come around the corner and it was very obvious we were going to need the entire department," said Lt. Michael Sherman, who responded with C group, the shift on duty. An all-call was made to bring in off-duty firefighters.
The owner, listed as Sandra Thomas, made a 911 call, said Lt. John Paciorek. She was able to exit the building and get her pets, a dog and two cats, out of the house as well.
Thomas recalled seeing smoke and fire in the house as she made her way out with the last cat.
"There was fire showing on the second floor of the building ... they advanced hose lines to the second floor to extinguish it," said Paciorek. "At the same time, there was fire showing on the first floor in the back and that was extinguished as well."
As the fire was contained in the front of the building, flames burst through a back window on the first floor in the back along Liberty Street. It took at least an hour to bring the blaze under control.
Paciorek said it wasn't clear yet what the path of the fire was or what caused it. The blaze is still under investigation and the state fire marshal's office has been contacted.
However, he said, "it is not deemed suspicious at this time."
The call came in at 9:53 p.m. and the fire wasn't fully out until after 11 p.m. Eagle Street was blocked by emergency equipment from Hall Street to the fork at Franklin Street. Emergency vehicles lined Eagle Street and the Fire Department's ladder truck was situated on Liberty Street.
North Adams Ambulance Service responded as did the city's Wire & Alarm Department. Mayor Richard Alcombright also visited the scene.
Firefighters began cleaning up the scene around midnight and planned to keep a fire watch through the night.
"It's a good group of guys. They knew the job. they got in there and got the brunt of the fire down," Sherman said. "Then going in and getting to the hot spots. ...
"The guys on the Fire Department did their job and did it well."
Vermont State Police Seek Information on Stamford Accident
STAMFORD, Vt. — State police are seeking information related to a reported hit-and-run that took place late Wednesday morning.
Samantha Goodreau, 22, of North Adams, Mass., was southbound on Main Road in her 2014 Hyundai Elantra when she says another vehicle forced her off the road, and she collided with the guard rail on the southbound lane, and then fled.
The incident occurred at about 11:45 a.m. near Brookside Drive, and Goudreau walked to a nearby home for assistance and told the homeowner what had happened.
She was taken to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, Mass., for bumps, bruises and minor head injury.
According to Trooper Lauren Ronan, the Elantra was in a position of "uncontrolled rest" within the southbound lane when she arrived. The vehicle had damage to the front passenger side bumper, hood and quarter panel. The airbags were not deployed. Vermont troopers along with Clarksburg (Mass.) Police and Massachusetts State Police were unable to locate another vehicle involved.
A description of the other vehicle involved was not provided.
There was no evidence that another vehicle collided with Goodreau's vehicle, according to state police, however, there still may have been another vehicle involved and the investigation is continuing. Anyone who may have witnessed the crash is asked to contact Trooper Ronan at 802-442-5421.
North Adams Police Investigating Hit & Run
Above is an image of a 2013 Ford Explorer similar to the sport utility vehicle believed involved in Wednesday's accident. Police say the suspect SUV could a 2016-17 model and has damage to its passenger side.
Update on Feb. 9, 2017: North Adams Police posted on Facebook on Thursday afternoon that a vehicle and driver suspected in Wednesday's hit-and-run on West Main Street have been found.
According to police, a vehicle was located "displaying damage consistent with the accident" and impounded. An individual was also taken into custody. The investigation is still active and statement said that there would be no further details immediately released.
The incident sent a man who had been shoveling snow near the roadway to the hospital in Pittsfield with injuries.
"We would first like to thank the general public for your assistance with your numerous tips," police wrote. Authorities had reached out to the public for help in locating the vehicle, which was found within 24 hours.
Update: North Adams Police say the vehicle involved in the hit-and-run Wednesday afternoon is a late-model black Ford Explorer Limited. The vehicle is missing its passengers side mirror and would have sustained significant damage to the passenger side.
If you have any information that may assist in finding the operator of this vehicle, please contact Officer P. Kelly or Officer A. Zoito at the North Adams Police Department.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Police are investigating a hit-and-run on West Main Street that injured a man who was at the side of the road.
The accident occurred at about 1:30 Wednesday afternoon when police responded to a report of a pedestrian struck near Hill Side Cemetery, around 295 West Main St.
"We have not identified the vehicle at this time but we are working on it," Sgt. James Burdick said at the scene.
Burdick said the man was shoveling near the edge of the roadway and was hit by a westbound car.
According to scanner reports, the vehicle was described as a small, dark-colored car with damage on its right side.
Burdick said police are trying to identify the make, model and year of the vehicle.
"We are going to pick up every one of these tiny pieces of car left behind and it is going to be like a giant jigsaw puzzle," he said, looking over debris left by the vehicle. "We will put it all together and find the make, model and year of the car and we go from there."
Burdick said the victim was first transported to Berkshire Medical Center's North Adams campus and then by ambulance to the main hospital in Pittsfield.
Mistaken Report Leads to Search of Hoosic River in North Adams
By Jack Guerino iBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Emergency responders spent about an hour searching the Hoosic River along State Road on Wednesday before determining that a report of two youngsters in the river was unfounded.
City and Williamstown police and firefighters, as well as North Adams Ambulance personnel, searched the riverside Wednesday beginning at about noon.
But the juveniles they were looking for turned out to be two people in a raft who were fishing.
"Through the investigation, NAPD located the two individuals that went in from the flood chute and they were in that location at that time," Fire Director Stephen Meranti said. "They confused [the caller] because they were bracing themselves against the wall."
Meranti said the call came in from the Greylock Club after a motorist said she saw the two people while driving into the city from the west.
"She could see the concrete flood chute behind them," he said. "We were sure that's where pretty much these guys went into the river."
Meranti said police officers eventually located the raft and the two people said they were in the area at the time.
Emergency service personnel walked the river bank and asked people along the bank if they saw anything. No one reported any sightings of children in the flood chute.
A command center was set up at Holy Family Terrace and the investigation lasted nearly an hour.
"You just have to make sure," Meranti said. "You have people in the area, and you have vehicles in the area with tracks going down to the river and no tracks coming out . … We just have to be thorough and it was a collaborative effort."
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