Monday July 30, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A kitchen stove is to blame for the fire near Pontoosuc Lake that left four people homeless, killed two family pets and injured a Pittsfield firefighter, city fire officials said on Sunday.

According to Deputy Fire Chief Mark Cancilla, one of the electric stove’s burners was on, igniting the blaze that raced through the two-story wooden house at 11 Swan St. on Friday afternoon.

The flames and smoke gutted most of the residence located at the end of Swan off Hancock Road, causing an estimated $150,000 worth of damage, Cancilla said. Owner John Chalski of Easthampton was renting the home to Shane Doolan, his wife Shannon, their 4-month-old daughter and a fourth person whose name wasn’t available.

All four apparently have temporary shelter with friends or relatives, fire officials said. The Berkshire County Chapter of the American Red Cross is providing additional assistance to the fire victims, who lost a majority of their personal belongings due to the fire.

While the tenants weren’t home when the blaze broke out around 3 p.m., the young family’s three dogs were trapped in the burning building.

Cancilla said Lanesborough Fire Department Volunteer J.D. Hebert, who responded to the scene, managed to save one of the dogs. However, the other two canines -- one a chocolate Labrador retriever -- were found dead in the basement likely due to high levels of carbon monoxide from the fire, Cancilla reported.


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All 18 on-duty Pittsfield firefighters, along with firefighters from Lanesborough, Lenox and Dalton fought the fast-moving fire that that took them two hours to bring under control. The flames and smoke spread from the kitchen to the living and dining rooms before it shot through the second floor and roof.

One city firefighter suffered an unspecified injury due to falling debris at the fire scene. Cancilla said the injured firefighters were taken to Berkshire Medical Center where he was treated and released.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.