Friday October 12, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Pittsfield Fire officials say an accelerant was used to start the fire that destroyed a vacant building at Ponterril, a former recreation area near Pontoosuc Lake on Wednesday night.

According to Pittsfield Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski, he and members of his department, including arson investigators, were at the site Thursday morning and located the spot the fire was started.

"It was definitely intentionally set," he said.

The chief said the department will work closely with Pittsfield Police in their investigation.

"Whoever did it will be facing pretty serious charges," Czer winski said.

At about 9 p.m. Wednesday, Pittsfield firefighters responded to 21 East Acres Road, where the single-story building was engulfed in flames. Czerwinski said there were about 18 firefighters involved in fighting the blaze. No one was hurt.

The building, located at Pittsfield Family YMCA’s former recreation camp, was commonly referred to as the caretaker’s house and had been vacant for about 10 years.

The YMCA is currently leasing Ponterril to a Connecticut-based company which plans to install solar panels on 22 acres of the 77-acre parcel. CTC Electric’s project includes the demolition of the deteriorating buildings and the clearing of 100 trees to make way for the solar array. It would generate three megawatts of electricity that would be sold and transported to Western Massachusetts Electric Co. as part of the power grid on North Street.

Once the city-approved project is installed, the site would be off-limits for any other uses, including recreation. Electronic surveillance and a gated en trance would protect the installation.

Eagle reporter Dick Lindsay contributed to the story.