Early Thursday morning fire destroys Hawthorne Avenue home in Pittsfield

Thursday March 7, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- The Pittsfield Fire Department is citing an electrical malfunction as the cause of a two-alarm fire that heavily charred a Hawthorne Avenue single-family home early Thursday morning.

Deputy Fire Chief Keith Phillips said Deputy Fire Chief Bruce Kilmer led a team of firefighters to respond to a 2:40 a.m. call of a reported house fire at 56 Hawthorne Ave.

"Upon arrival, firefighters saw smoke coming out of the rear of the house and the windows," said Phillips.

He said the home's resident, Robert Clum, and a woman were home at the time, along with five dogs.

The man, who said he was upstairs using the computer at the time, told firefighters he thought he had smelled smoke, an reportedly went downstairs to investigate. Upon seeing smoke, he went back upstairs, notified the fire department, the woman, who was sleeping at the time, and got themselves and the pets out of the home.

Phillips said firefighters were faced with "a large volume of fire" on the first and part of the second floor of the wood structure.

Multiple water hose lines were run to the front of the house to put out the flames.

The blazed burned out the home's stairwell, and the property sustained heavy smoke, fire and water damage.

Two firefighters were reported to have sustained minor injuries, including burns to their ears and under their chins.

Upon investigation, firefighters determined the origin of the fire at the rear of the home's first floor, near the kitchen. They believe the fire was caused by either an overloaded electric circuit or faulty wiring leading to the refrigerator.

According to a fire department report, the incident caused about $50,000 worth of damage. The property itself is listed under the ownership of Adams Savings Bank.

A yellow tape line and a notice of dangerous condition has been placed in front of the home by the city building inspector, declaring the house uninhabitable. Gas and electric utilities have also been shut off to the property.

Deputy Phillips said the people living there have found temporary housing at a nearby motel.


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