4 people displaced following Pittsfield fire


Photo Gallery: Wahconah Street Fire Aftermath

PITTSFIELD -- Four people -- including a baby -- have been left homeless by an apparent accidental two-alarm fire Tuesday night that destroyed their Wahconah Street duplex, fire officials said on Wednesday.

In addition, three young women living next door are temporarily living in a local hotel as their apartment at 144-146 Wahconah St. was damaged as a result of heat and water from the blaze.

The other three tenants living in the adjacent four-unit building were expected to return to their apartments by Wednesday evening, according to Pittsfield Deputy Fire Chief Michael Polidoro.

Two of the residents of 150 Wahconah St., a husband and wife in their 50s -- and their cat -- are staying with friends, according to the Berkshire County Chapter of the American Red Cross. The other family, a mother and her 1-year-old child, have moved in with relatives.

While the tenants escaped unharmed, Polidoro said three Pittsfield firefighters were hurt: Two were treated at the scene for minor injuries and one was taken to Berkshire Medical Center, where he treated for a hand injury and released.

A joint investigation by Pittsfield fire officials and the State Fire Marshal Office found nothing suspicious about the blaze, but the cause "remains undetermined due to the extensive damage."

On Wednesday, the Pittsfield Building Department deemed the wood-frame structure unsafe and unsalvageable and ordered it demolished.

The fire, which was reported about 9 p.m. Tuesday, apparently began in the second-floor ceiling, according to fire investigators.

"There was heavy fire in the ceiling and attic when firefighters arrived," Polidoro said.

The city's five engine companies and two ladder trucks fought the blaze in frigid temperatures. Off-duty city firefighters also were called in, along with mutual aid from Lenox.

Water directed at the center of the roof froze by the time it reached the eaves, as temperatures hovered around 14 degrees. Nevertheless, firefighters had the blaze under control in an hour.

Polidoro said the building was insured and assessed by the city at $136,000. The duplex, along with the four-unit home at 144-146 Wahconah, are both owned by Wahconah Grove Street Nominee, with Douglas Malins listed as the principal trustee.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233


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