Wednesday October 17, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- An electrical malfunction caused Monday night's fire at a Dartmouth Street apartment house, the Pittsfield fire chief said on Tuesday.

Three families were displaced as a result of the Monday night blaze, which rendered the four-unit residence at 23 and 25 Dartmouth St. uninhabitable.

Pittsfield Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski told The Eagle on Tuesday that investigators traced the origin of the fire to the attic portion about the units at 25 Dartmouth St. Families living on the first and second floors there had to be relocated, as did the family living on the first floor unit at 23 Dartmouth St. The second floor unit at 23 Dartmouth St. was vacant.

The Berkshire County Red Cross was called in since families were not allowed to stay the night in the building, Czerwinski said.

Firefighters and emergency responders arrived to the scene around 9:15 p.m. on Monday, and the fire was under control after a 45-minute fight.

None of the tenants were injured, but Czerwinski said one firefighter was sent to Berkshire Medical Center due to smoke inhalation. He was treated and released.

Irv Jones, who lives with his son and grandson next door, said he reported the fire.

"I opened up the attic door and smoke came out," Jones said. "I only made it halfway up the [attic] stairs and couldn't make it up any further."

The families rounded up their cats, called 911 and then headed out.

Many tenants on the scene were worried for their cats, asking officials to check if they were still inside. Jones and his family were still looking for their black cat named Puma. On Tuesday, Czerwinski said it was still uncertain whether all the pets were found.

The fire chief estimated that structure sustained a minimum of $30,000 to $40,000 worth of damages.