Arson charge filed following fire at Barton's Crossing shelter in Pittsfield


PITTSFIELD >> A city woman is facing an arson charge for allegedly disabling a smoke detector on Monday night and starting a fire under a bed, which detonated an aerosol can.

Amanda Swift, 22, was arrested shortly after the incident at Barton's Crossing shelter on Monday evening.

Police and firefighters were called to the North Street location about 6:20 p.m. for a report of smoke in the building, according to a probable cause report written by Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas Harrington.

Smoke was coming from Swift's room and firefighters saw that the smoke detector had been removed from the ceiling and its wires had been cut.

While investigators were in the room, an aerosol container underneath an unused bed in the room exploded.

Deputy Pittsfield Fire Chief Daniel Garner said it appeared the fire was started under that bed, and set a portion of the box spring ablaze.

Investigators found a lighter and the smoke detector behind a dresser inside the room, according to Harrington's report. Garner believed the fire was intentionally set.

A counselor at the shelter told police Swift is the only occupant of that room.

The counselor said Swift had come downstairs about 5 p.m. and said she was leaving and going to sleep in the woods, though she remained in the building until the smoke was first seen, according to the report.

Surveillance video footage allegedly shows Swift as the only person who entered or left the room between 5 p.m. until staff went in to investigate the smoke about 6:15 p.m.

While police were still on scene, Swift approached an officer saying she didn't feel well and needed an ambulance.

Swift was taken to Berkshire Medical Center where she declined to speak to police without a lawyer present and was placed under arrest.

She pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court on Tuesday to one count of arson of a dwelling house. Judge William A. Rota ordered her held on $2,500 bail.

Swift is due back in court on May 15 for a pretrial hearing.

Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.


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