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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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Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts Supports Flying Cloud Institute

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Flying Cloud Institute (FCI) announced funding from the Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts to support its Young Women in Science program in Southern Berkshire County and Pittsfield.
For over twenty years, FCI has offered Young Women in Science (YWIS) programs free of charge to underserved female-identified youth in Berkshire County in the form of after school Girls Science Clubs, youth mentorship programs, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Summer workshops, and conferences for Women in STEM. 
"Coming out of this pandemic year, there has never been a more important time to engage our youth in empowering, hands-on investigations with authentic role models in order to build up their identities as capable, curious learners and to inspire the next generation of STEM leaders," said Executive Director Maria Rundle.
The programs focus on girls who might have an inclination for STEM but find little encouragement and little to no opportunity to interact with women STEM professionals who would serve as role models— all while facing the social stigma that girls are not good at STEM.
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