A Stockbridge family's garage and home and a downtown Lenox business were damaged following a pair of back-to-back, unrelated fires an hour apart that kept South County firefighters busy early Wednesday morning.
Around 2:20 a.m., the homeowner at 9 Glendale Middle Road in Stockbridge called to report his detached garage, which also has a chicken coop, was on fire.
The three adult members of the Forbes family escaped unharmed as the blaze began to spread to their two-story, wood-frame house a few feet away, according to Stockbridge fire officials.
"When we got there, the garage was fully [engulfed in flames]," said Fire Chief Chuck Cardillo. Minutes later, flames started reaching the house.
The fire has forced the Forbes family to seek temporary shelter with family and friends, according the Berkshire County Chpater of the American Red Cross. Local Red Cross officials say they have provided food, clothing and personal care items to the fire victims.
Cardillo added the rear of the house sustained "extensive damage" that, along with the garage, resulted in an estimated $250,000 loss to the homeowner, according to the fire department.
Fire officials noted the family pets -- including two dogs -- also survived the fire, but 18 baby chicks in the garage perished in the blaze. Cardillo suspects a malfunctioning heat lamp in the garage sparked the fire, but the exact cause remains under investigation.
About 80 firefighters, including support from Lenox, Lee, Great Barrington and West Stockbridge, were on the scene. The fire took about an hour to put out.
The intense blaze could have been worse because two nearly full 100-gallon propane tanks were just outside the garage.
"We had two hoses on [the tanks] all night long," Cardillo said.
An hour earlier at 1:14 a.m., a Lenox police officer on patrol and a pedestrian spotted a small fire outside near a window box at Casablanca, the retail boutique at 21 Housatonic St. in Lenox.
Lenox Fire Chief Dan Clifford said the smoke and flames were put out quickly, but heat cracked a shop window and smoke permeated the interior, causing an estimated $7,000 worth of damage. The cause of the fire appears to be from the "careless disposal of a cigarette," Clifford said.
As soon as Lenox firefighters cleared their fire scene, the mutual aid call came from Stockbridge.
"There wasn't a lot of sleep last night," Clifford said.
Lenox has had one of the busiest fire departments in Berkshire County the past two weeks.
On April 11, dozens of residents were displaced because of a fire at the Curtis apartment complex in Lenox.
"With all this happening, we all wonder what kind of year we're going to have," said Clifford, speaking of Berkshire County's fire departments.
On Monday, dozens of South County firefighters battled a storage barn fire in North Egremont ignited by embers from a controlled brush fire the homeowner thought he had extinguished. No one was injured
On Tuesday, the Pittsfield Fire Department put out a significant fire at a house on Columbus Avenue, the homeowner suffering minors burns trying to douse the flames.