Alford home 'total loss' in Sunday blaze

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ALFORD George Meyer left his home at 11 Rowe Road on Sunday to get some gravel. When he returned 20 minutes later, the single-story house where he had lived for over 30 years was on fire.

"I came home and it was burning," Meyer said, standing across the street Sunday afternoon from what was left of his home.

The fire, which triggered a sizable response from five southern Berkshire County fire departments, and at least one department from New York state, was reported around noon, according to Alford Fire Chief Steve Berkel. Although the structure was still standing, Berkel referred to the damage as "probably a total loss."

The cause of the fire had not been determined Sunday. "It's too early for that," Berkel said at the scene. He believed the fire started above the garage.

It did not appear to officials to be suspicious. "I don't think so," he said.

Meyer and four other people lived in the house. No one was home when the fire started and no injuries were reported, although Meyer said he wasn't sure if some cats that were inside the house when he had left made it out safely.

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"I tried to open the door," to get them out, Meyer said.

The blaze was underway when firefighters arrived on the scene, Berkel said.

"Flames were coming out the window and out the back," he said. "Heavy smoke was coming out front."

He said it took firefighters about an hour to bring the blaze under control, but firefighters were still spraying water on the back of the residence around 2 p.m. Water ran in torrents down the driveway from the house, which sits on a hill.

Samantha Butler, and her five-year-old niece, Addison Reidel, the daughter of Meyer's stepdaughter, Michelle Riedel, had also left the residence before the fire started to walk to a nearby river. Addison was clinging to two stuffed animals that she had taken with her on the trek.

"It's all gone," Butler said, referring to the rest of her niece's belongings. "We were actually thinking of going to the store to get Addison some clothes for tonight." Meyer said he has fire insurance. Butler said the resident of the house were planning to stay with relatives who live nearby.

Fire departments from Alford, Egremont, Great Barrington, Richmond, West Stockbridge and Austerlitz, N.Y., responded to the scene, along with Southern Berkshire Ambulance. Their vehicles clogged the narrow country road where Meyer's house is located. Both Egremont and Richmond sent tanker trucks. A device that looked like a wading pool was set up in front of the house for the tankers to draw water from.


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