ADAMS, Mass. — Five fire companies responded to a structure fire on Richmond Street on Thursday morning that gutted the apartment building.
The second floor of the century-old building at 16-18 Richmond was fully involved when firefighters arrived shortly after 9:30 a.m.
Everyone was reported out of the building and no one was injured. It wasn't immediately clear how many people were affected.
It was the smoke from the fire that could be seen across town and from as far as Curran Highway in North Adams that alerted first-responders.
"I was actually driving downtown when I looked over and saw heavy smoke," said Fire Chief John Pansecchi. "I pulled up and the house was already fully involved, every window had smoke. We've basically been on the attack since we got here."
Richmond is one of several steep and narrow streets on the east side of Summer Street. Firefighters from Adams, North Adams, Cheshire, Dalton and Savoy responded to the scene. With some difficulty, Adams and North Adams bracketed the building with ladder trucks on Richmond and even narrower Clifford Lane to get to hotspots within the building.
A vacant two-story residence at 10 Richmond next to the fire was used to run a line to get to the fire from the side. Power was cut off to the neighborhood, "leaving a lot of turkeys in the oven," said one neighbor, who was preparing to put his own pies in the oven when the power went out.
National Grid was at the scene to aid in moving wires and Adams Police blocked off Summer from Hoosac Street to Winter Street.
The nearly 7,000 square-foot structure is listed as a three-apartment building and owned by Richard and Sandra Kleiner, according to town documents. Pansecchi said the building was fully occupied. A smaller unit at basement level was being used as a short-term rental and the occupant, from Canada, was worried about getting her identification documents out.
By about 11:30 a.m., the fire was contained but hotspots were still sending smoke into the air. The entire attic was gone and the second story and front facade were a charred mess.
"We've got the bulk of the fire knocked down and we're trying to hit some hotspots now," said the chief.
Pansecchi said cause wasn't known but an investigator from state fire marshal's office was already on the scene and the chief said he appreciated the fast response, especially on a holiday. The investigator was speaking to tenants and the owners.
"This is a great effort by everybody here," Pansecchi said. "These guys all did a great job. They worked their tails off to get this under control."
Additional photos here.