North Adams Transcript
WILLIAMSTOWN -- Firefighters and forest wardens from six communities struggled late Wednesday afternoon into the evening to extinguish a structure and brush fire at the top of Pine Cobble Road.
Fire Chief Craig A. Pedercini said firefighters received a call at about 4:39 p.m. reporting a structure fire on Pine Cobble Road, and upon arrival, about 50 percent a house under construction was burning.
"Within minutes it had accelerated to the house being fully involved," he said.
No one was injured in the fire, Pedercini said.
The three-story house across the street from 495 Pine Cobble Road was being built for Peter Pedroni and his family by contractor Ron Baldwin.
Pedroni, an associate professor of economics at Williams College, purchased the property in October 2009 from Williams College President and Trustees.
"It’s devastating," Pedroni said, as he watched firefighters soak the last of the charred rubble.
Neighbor Greg Karabinos, 17, said Pedroni was excited to see the house being built, and it’s sad something like this happened.
Another neighbor, Haley Mahar, 16, called 911 after she saw smoke coming out a front window of the house.
"I just looked out the window and saw smoke coming through the front window. I thought it was dust or dirt at first, but then it got bigger, and I saw flames so I called 911," she said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, Pedercini said.
As firefighters fought the blaze, flames quickly spread to the woods behind the house.
"The wind basically aired the fire, and it took the house before moving to the backside of the property and up the north slope of the mountain," Pedercini said.
The brush fire then moved southeast toward the area of the Pine Cobble Trail before turning northwest when the wind changed direction, he said.
Flames came close to a nearby water tower, but firefighters were able to knock them down before they damaged any equipment.
The Williamstown and Adams Forest Wardens were called in to assist as well as fire departments from Pownal, Vt., Clarksburg, Florida and Lanesborough.
While a staging area was set up on Pine Cobble Road, most firefighters fought the fire from a second staging area up the hill at the water tower.
Butch Garrity, Berkshire County fire coordinator, said the conditions Wednesday made it a "red flag day" meaning the likelihood of forest fires was high.
"You get weather like this, and a fire can grow by 27 times a minute," he said.
By about 8:30 p.m., the brush fire had been extinguished, and Williamstown Forest Warden Richard F. Daniels Jr. planned to return to the area Thursday morning with his crew to "mop up" any areas where the fire may still be smoldering, Pedercini said.
He said they will be joined by the Adams Forest Wardens, and small crews from Lanesborough, New Ashford and Clarksburg.
While firefighters haven’t been able to assess the size of the brush fire, Pedercini estimates it burned 20 to 30 acres.
"It was all caused by the structure fire," he said.
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