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Five families are dealing with the loss of their homes and belongings after a fire ripped through their apartment building on Tuesday.

North Adams Rallies to Support Fire Victims

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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — When tragedy strikes in the Berkshires, the community responds. 
Within hours of a devastating fire on Houghton Street that left five families homeless, donation drives had already begun to help them get back on their feet. 
Peter Oleskiewicz, owner of Desperados on Eagle Street, raised $500 with an impromptu chicken wing fundraiser on Tuesday night. He's also accepting cash and gift card donations at the restaurant through this week with plans to divvy up the proceeds and deliver them to the families on Friday. 
"These people had nothing but the clothes on their backs," he said. 
The Readsboro (Vt.) Inn and the Greylock Club have both started donation buckets with a $100 contribution to start. And Grazie's Matt Tatro was whipping up dinners on Wednesday to deliver to the fire victims. 
Marilyn Miller Honig came across the fire on her way home and began looking on Facebook for what had happened. That prompted her to create a page, North Adams- Helping Hands For Brooklyn St And Beyond, to begin linking people up. 
"I wanted to know how I could help and I thought I could bring the conservation together," the Stamford, Vt., resident said. 
Her page has been inundated with lists of needs and offers of help, and some of the fire victims have reached out to her. One woman told Honig she was overwhelmed by all the support. Honig's still trying to piece together a master list and seeking a space for larger items, like furniture, to be stored until families can pick them up. 
"I'm good with everybody posting what they know and hear," she said. "I think I'm just kind of waiting for some key players to direct people where to go."
The Salvation Army has been providing clothes, toys and food for the dispossessed and Goodwill Industries is giving out vouchers that can be redeemed in its stores. Drury High School has some clothing (contact Melanie Rancourt) and Tina Samson at the city's Veterans Office is accepting clothing donations.
Several GoFundMe drives have been set up and can be found here, here and here
Tuesday's fire started in the front bedroom in a second-floor apartment at 246-248 Houghton St., causing significant fire, smoke and water damage to the 1884 structure. It took firefighters several hours to bring the conflagration under control. The state fire marshal has taken over the investigation, said Fire Chief Stephen Meranti.
Five of the six units were occupied and at least four of those families were reportedly able to obtain permanent or temporary housing. 
Owner Charles R. "Randy" Ransford Jr. was at the property on Wednesday as people salvaged items from the first and ground floor apartments in the three-story building. Ransford had walked through with the Building Inspector William Meranti, sizing up the future of the building. 
He wasn't sure if he could save it, saying he'd have to crunch the numbers, but it would be sealed up and the debris from the fire removed. 
"Nobody was hurt, that's important," he said. 

Tags: donations,   structure fire,   

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North Adams Parks Commission Hears Plea for Benches

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

The playground at River Grove Park is popular but there's no place for adults to sit and watch their children. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Parks and Recreation Commission is open to benches at River Grove Park and a have a simple solution to prevent Kemp Park from going to the dogs. 
The commission on Monday heard several updates and recommendations on the city's parks, including a request made through City Councilor Marie T. Harpin to install benches at the playground on Houghton Street. 
"They would like some more benches over there at River Grove Park at the playground," said Commissioner Timothy Koperek. "I went over there, and there is one bench and then they've been sitting on the plastic that holds all the material inside. And it's not very comfortable and you're sitting close to the ground and if you have kids and grandparents and parents there, it would be nice to have several more benches."
Harpin said she had been contacted by a woman who liked to take her grandchild to the park. There is the one bench, she said, but it's on one side of the playground that is separated into to sections. 
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