Photo Gallery | Fire at former JB Paper Company in Pittsfield
PITTSFIELD — A three-alarm fire near the Pittsfield Cemetery consumed an abandoned factory city fire officials say was an inferno waiting to happen.
Around 8 p.m., the Pittsfield Fire Department were called to the former J.B. Paper Company at 70 Elmvale Place off Wahconah Street where firefighters found the brick and cinder block building engulfed in flames.
"The fire was ahead of us from the git-go," said Deputy Fire Chief Matthew Noyes. "Fire was through the roof for the first 15 minutes."
Fire officials immediately called a second alarm, bringing in off-duty Pittsfield firefighters. A third alarm was issued 30 minutes later requesting mutual aid from Dalton, Hinsdale, Cheshire, Richmond, Lanesborough and Lenox, the majority of the departments providing tanker trucks. Noyes says getting water to the site was a problem early on, but was resolved with the help of the city's Water Department.
Dalton's ladder truck was side-by-side with Pittsfield Tower 1 continuously pumping thousands of gallons from above onto the collapsed roof of the structure.
Noyes said the dozens of firefighters at the scene did a good job containing the blaze, but he anticipated the fire would burn well into the night.
He expected city and state fire investigators wouldn't be able to sift through the rubble until after daybreak on Tuesday to figure out what caused the fire.
As of 11 p.m., no firefighters were hurt battling the blaze and it was unclear if anyone was in the building when the fire started.
"You have a lot of people squatting there," said Bo, who lives and works near the old factory. The city man who would only give his first name didn't see or hear anyone in the building.
He and Anthony Fabino, an employee at nearby Dash and Albert Rug Co., discovered the fire, which started out small and suddenly spread throughout the complex.
"I ran over there and saw something glowing in the garage," Fabino said. "I then ran back and informed my boss."
According to one website, J. B. Paper Company was formed in 1933 but had been vacant for at least a decade, Noyes said.
City officials had long since deemed the structure unsafe, which made local fire officials nervous.
"We've known this [fire] has been coming for years," Noyes said.
Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233