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Hazmat Called in for Medical Incident at Opioid Treatment Center

Staff Reports
Spectrum Health Systems was evacuated this morning after a nurse fell ill.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Fire Department and hazardous materials team are investigating a medical incident at Spectrum Health Systems.
 
Police Sgt. Albert Zoito said a report had been received around 11 on Thursday morning that one of the Spectrum employees had fallen ill after coming in contact with "something that someone brought in."
 
"A nurse that worked here was subjected to something that someone brought in and she is now feeling ill," he said. "She came in contact with something that was making her feel ill, apparently, and reported that came in from somebody." 
 
Fire Chief Stephen Meranti said the woman received medical attention, the facility has been evacuated and the HAZMAT Technical Operations Module was called. The facility is an opioid treatment center that offers a range of services including methadone.
 
"We have evacuated the building … and we have hazmat here looking into the situation," he said. "There is no one else in the building, there are not other symptoms, and it seems to be an isolated  incident."
 
Meranti said hazmat was surveying the building to rule out that any conditions within the building caused the illness such as a carbon monoxide leak or an oxygen deficiency. 
 
He added that it could also be an individual medical condition separate from any issue within the building and although they were leaning toward this scenario, they will not know for sure until hazmat have finished their sweep and they have heard back from the emergency room.
 
Update at 5 p.m.: "Really nothing has changed," Meranti said. "They cleared the building and at this point, the police are still following up on it and questioning the patient but it appears to be a medical condition."
 

 

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Adams Police Investigating Stabbing Incident

By Jack Guerino
iBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — Police are investigating an incident early Thursday morning that left three injured with knife wounds. 
 
"The investigation is fluid and ongoing," Police Chief Richard Tarsa Jr. wrote in a press release late Thursday morning. "This is an isolated in targeted incident ... at no time was the public in any danger."
 
Just after 1 a.m. Thursday, police responded to Commercial Street near Cumberland Farms to find a person who had been stabbed.
 
Police and emergency services searched the area and officers found two more individuals on lower Linden Street suffering from knife wounds.
 
All three victims were transported to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, where they were being treated for non-life threatening injuries.
 
The identities of those involved are known but have not yet been released. 
 
Tarsa wrote that the investigation is being conducted by the Adams Police and the state police detective unit assigned through the district attorney's office. 
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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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Pittsfield Firefighters Snuff Back-to-Back House Fires

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

A police officer talks with children at the Wahconah Street fire. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Firefighters quickly snuffed out two back-to-back minor fires on Wednesday night -- but they were serious enough displace a dozen people. 
 
The first was a dryer fire on South Onota Street that displaced two families, a total of eight people.
 
"It looked like it was just overheated," said Deputy Chief Tom Sammons. "Now again, that got out of the dryer and started a little bit of the surroundings on fire. ... So we pulled an inch and three-quarter line there, knock down the fire that was coming out of the dryer, removed the dryer from the structure. And that house was full of smoke."
 
Firefighters were back at the station with enough time "to eat a salad" when a call came in for excess smoke from a chimney at 252 Wahconah St. 
 
"Engine Five arrived on scene and noticed that there was a lot more smoke than smoke in a chimney," Sammons said. Two additional engines and a truck company and Sammons were called to the scene. "And once I saw the column of smoke, I requested a fourth engine. ...
 
"Once they saw that it was there was smoke on the edges of the windows, they switched tactics and went to an aggressive attack."
 
The fire was on the first floor in the rear one-story section of the building. There are three apartments total in the building but there was only one individual at home at the time, in the front apartment. 
 
"We got in and searched the entire building twice," he said. "We did find somebody in the front who didn't know that there was an emergency."
 
Sammons wasn't sure how many people lived in the building believed it to be at least three to five. The Red Cross was notified. 
 
The deputy chief said he was waiting for the building and electrical inspectors and Health Department to assess the structure. There is fire damage to the rear of the building  and smoke damage through out. The cause is not yet clear.
 
He complimented the efforts of the firefighters in knocking down both blazes very quickly. 
 
"They did an aggressive knock down and great job," he said. "They're safe. They're aggressive. And they take care of business."
 
No one was injured was in the fires but Sammons said both had something in common that was disturbing. 
 
"This is the second fire today and both houses we're at were missing smoke detectors," he said at the scene of the Wahconah fire. "That's a that's a big concern for us."
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Hinsdale Police Searching For Missing Woman

Staff Reports

The woman was last seen on Smith Road Wednesday morning.
HINSDALE, Mass. — Police are asking for help locating a woman who went missing Wednesday morning.
 
Jacqueline Coutinho was last seen on Smith Road at about 10:15 on Wednesday morning. Police and emergency responders have been searching for her for three days now but have been unable to find any clues to her whereabouts.
 
Anyone with information about where Coutinho might be to are asked to contact police at 413-655-0201.
 
Police Chief Susan Rathbun said there nothing to suggest anything nefarious happened nor is there any indication of that the woman was suffering from any mental health issues causing her to wander off.
 
But still, the search conducted by Police, the Fire Department, Berkshire Mountain Search and Rescue, and the Massachusetts State Police have so far been unsuccessful in locating her.
 
"Wednesday until dark we searched and then we searched all [Thursday]," Rathbun said. 
 
The search has entailed K9 units, foot patrols, and a helicopter. Rathbun said there are no missing vehicles related to the case. The woman had been visiting her sister in Hinsdale.
 
"She was here with her sister. She had been here about a month," Rathbun said. 
 
Coutinho was last seen wearing a purple/red sweater, blue jeans, and white sneakers. She is described as white with blonde and gray hair, and standing approximately 5-feet-6 and weighing about 130 pounds.


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