NORTH ADAMS -- A city woman was displaced from her apartment at 32 Isbell St. on Friday after a fire destroyed the contents of her home.
Diana Kennedy and her personal care attendant, Tara Thompson, who were in the apartment when the fire started, escaped unharmed.
"I'm stressing out right now," Kennedy said, as she sat across the street, watching members of the North Adams Fire Department put her charred furniture on the lawn. "I have no apartment. I have nothing."
Kennedy, who uses an oxygen tank, initially refused medical treatment, but was later taken by ambulance to North Adams Regional Hospital for an evaluation.
North Adams Fire Director Steve Meranti said the fire started when a cigarette came in contact with tubing connected to Kennedy's oxygen tank.
"Diana, who is on oxygen, was smoking," he said at the scene. "The fire started on the oxygen line. An improperly discarded cigarette fell on the coil of the oxygen tank. The oxygen caused the fire to excel and it went through the apartment quickly."
Kennedy, who made arrangements to stay with family, confirmed that she had been smoking a cigarette before the fire started.
"I smoked a cigarette and I thought I put it out," she said. "It must have fallen off the side of the stand."
According to the North Adams Police Department blotter, calls reporting the fire started around 10:39 a.m. Among those to report the fire was Charlane Deloge, who was outside of 25 Isbell St. visiting with friends.
"A lady came out of her apartment yelling, ‘Call 911. My house is on fire. It's going to blow.' I called 911 right away," she said. "When I heard there was an oxygen tank in that apartment, I grabbed my friends and moved them down the street away from there."
Meranti said that a North Adams Police officer who arrived first at the scene reported the apartment was a fully-engaged structure fire and that an oxygen tank was known to be inside.
"Acting Lt. Scott Barbeau immediately called in all off-duty firefighters," he said. "By the time we arrived on scene, the fire was already showing. It was a quick knockdown."
North Adams Housing Authority Executive Director Jennifer Hohn, who was at the scene, said she was glad no one was hurt in the fire.
"Ms. Kennedy is going to stay with family, although the Housing Authority did offer to put her up until we find a place to relocate her to," Hohn said. "We've already called our insurance company and we will evaluate the adjoining apartment [at 34 Isbell] to see if there is any damage there. The North Adams Fire Department needs to be commended for their quick response and the fact they kept it isolated to one unit."
The one-bedroom apartment is part of the Greylock Valley Apartments, which is owned by the housing authority. The dwelling should be salvageable, with some renovations, Meranti said.
"The good thing is the fire did not get into the actual structure," he said.
Members of the city's fire and police departments, along with members of the North Adams Ambulance Service, responded to the fire.
To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, email