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Great Barrington Fire fights a blaze at the vacant Wonderful Things gift shop on July 7.

Building Owner Charged with Arson in Great Barrington Fire

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GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Great Barrington Police and State Police arrested Harry Sano, 85, Wednesday night for arson of a dwelling house, presenting a false insurance claim, and burning a building to defraud an insurer in connection with the Stockbridge Road fire.
"Though the building was vacant, the act of setting fire to any structure poses a life and safety hazard to civilians and firefighters alike," said Great Barrington Police Chief Paul Storti. "I'd like to thank the investigative team for working so hard to identify the facts and circumstances surrounding what we allege was a deliberately-set fire."
The arrest is connected to the July 7 fire at a building Sano owns that housed the former Wonderful Things gift shop.
"Great Barrington firefighters battled heavy smoke coming from every area of the structure and flames in the basement, first floor, and second floor," said Fire Chief Charles Burger. "With mutual aid companies from Sheffield and Monterey, they did an outstanding job of preventing the fire from spreading to other nearby buildings and minimizing damage to the building itself."
The arrest came as part of a joint investigation by the Great Barrington Police Department, Great Barrington Fire Department, and members of the State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit assigned to the State Fire Marshal's office. 
Sano was taken into custody Wednesday night in the course of the investigation. He was booked at the Great Barrington Police Department and released by the bail commissioner pending arraignment in Southern Berkshire District Court on Monday, July 26.
"Arson is an extremely serious offense, and we investigate it as such," said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. "Fire doesn't do what it's told – it can burn faster and spread further than expected, claiming life and property without warning. We urge anyone with information on an arson fire to share it with investigators or contact the Arson Watch Reward Program at 1-800-682-9229."
The Arson Watch Reward Program provides rewards of up to $5,000 for information that helps to solve arson crimes.  It is sponsored by the property and casualty insurance underwriting companies of Massachusetts.

Tags: arson,   structure fire,   

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Two Berkshire Residents Join CDCSB Board of Directors

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire (CDCSB) welcomed two new members to its Board of Directors. 
Don Eaton, of Stockbridge, and Joe Grachmal, of Great Barrington, were elected to serve a three-year term this week on the nonprofit's Board of Directors.
Don Eaton is an account director at Toole Insurance Agency in Lee. Professionally, Eaton works with clients in the construction and other related sectors in Massachusetts and Eastern New York, and holds the Certified Insurance Counselor and Construction Risk Insurance Specialist designations. In his personal time, he has devoted many years to volunteerism and philanthropy and currently serves as a deacon for the Congregational Church in Stockbridge. Don has a keen interest in affordable housing and is dedicated to supporting small businesses. He joined the CDCSB Board with the intent to serve on the Economic Development subcommittees and working closely with the organization's new Small Business Technical Assistance Program.
Joe Grachmal is a 2019 Harvard graduate and Great Barrington resident with a passion for municipal innovation and supporting small towns. In fact, Grachmal is currently developing a private municipal innovation company called Ulpian Labs, which will "engage the next generation of leaders to address crucial challenges facing small to mid-sized municipalities." He is also a Lead America Hometown Fellow. Joe has a passion for all things sustainable and took an interest in the CDCSB's mission of building affordable housing. With Joe's experience, he will serve on the Board's Marketing and Fundraising subcommittee and contribute to the work on developing affordable housing projects in the Berkshires.
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