Investigators determine Pittsfield fire was caused by improper disposal of burning incense

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PITTSFIELD — A fire on Burke Avenue on Sunday that left five city residents homeless was started by improper disposal of burning incense.

Investigators traced the origin of the fire to the vicinity of a wastebasket, where a resident said he had disposed of the incense, according to Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski.

One firefighter was treated at Berkshire Medical Center for a knee injury and released, Czerwinski said. Another suffered minor injuries, but was not transported to the hospital.

Two residents also were treated: a woman with a pre-existing health condition and man apparently suffering smoke inhalation, said Deputy Fire Chief Matt Noyes.

Just before 6 p.m., several 911 calls reported flames coming from the front of the duplex at 125-127 Burke Ave.

The fire also blew out a window on the backside of the two-story house.

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The residence was heavily damaged and the occupants lost nearly all their possessions. A family dog perished in the flames; the fate of a cat, which was missing after the fire, was unclear.

Fire crews knocked out the flames in about 30 minutes, but remained on the scene until about 11 p.m., Czerwinski said.

Many ceilings and walls had to be opened up to make sure there were no remnants of fire, he said.

All on-duty personnel responded to the scene with four engines and two ladder trucks.

The Hinsdale Fire Department assisted at the scene with Lenox and Dalton fire departments on standby at Pittsfield Fire Department headquarters.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at, at @BE_pleboeuf on Twitter and 413-496-6247.


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