Tuesday April 23, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- A man suffered minor burns to his face when fire spread quickly through his Columbus Avenue home on Tuesday afternoon.

David Noci, the current resident of 231 Columbus Ave., said he was testing electricity in the house around 1:20 p.m. When he stepped outside, he saw the gasoline-powered generator was on fire. Flames quickly spread up one side of the building and then into the two-story home.

"I burned my face trying to hose down the fire," Noci said. Though his face was red as if it had been sunburned, he did not seek medical attention.

Firefighters immediately responded to the two-alarm fire at Noci's residence, Pittsfield Fire Chief Czerwinski said. All 19 firefighters who were on duty on Tuesday were called to the scene.

"We could see the flames and smoke from the fire station just down the street," Czerwinski said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but the asphalt siding of the building -- molded to look like brick -- is what caused the flames to spread so quickly, Czerwinski said.

"We call it ‘gasoline siding,'" he said. "It's an old siding similar to the asphalt shingles you put on the roof. There are a lot of houses in Berkshire County that still have asphalt siding."

The home was built in 1920 and is valued for tax purposes at $47,400, according to city records. Czerwinski said he responded to a similar fire at the building about eight years ago when the house was vacant.


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Thick black smoke from the fire was clearly visible through most of downtown Pittsfield on Tuesday afternoon. It took firefighters about 10 minutes to extinguish the flames, Czerwinski said. However, crews continued working to ensure hot spots in the attic and basement also were put out. Traffic was directed away from Columbus Avenue while crews worked.