By Andy McKeever
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Multiple towns joined Pittsfield Fire early Sunday morning to combat a blaze in a multi-family building on Dalton Avenue.
Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said a family of five was taken to Berkshire Medical Center for smoke inhalation during the blaze which completely destroyed the apartment building.
The chief said the department received the call to respond to 8 Dalton Avenue at 3:30 in the morning as flames shot out of the building.
"On arrival fire was showing and people were evacuated from the building. We believe everyone is out of the building and safe. Some of the families were transported to Berkshire Medical Center for smoke inhalation," Czerwinski said.
Czerwinski didn't know exactly how many people lived in the building but it features four apartments on the upper floors and office space on the ground level.
Three Berkshire County towns ended up being called in to bring ladder trucks because the city still remains without one. The city's primary truck has been in the shop for repairs and the reserve was taken out of service.
"We obviously didn't have our ladder truck. It wasn't a problem offhand but as the fire escalated we did call in multiple ladder trucks from Lenox, number one, Williamstown, number two, and Adams, number three, because of the ice on the street. We couldn't throw ground ladders up," Czerwinski said.
"It was unsafe to operate off of ground ladders so we had multiple aerial ladders. The roof was collapsed. The third flood collapsed."
The chief expects his ladder truck to return to the department after repairs this upcoming week and the City Council has approved the purchase of a used, 2014, ladder truck as well.
Fire investigators have not yet determined a cause. As of 8 a.m. firefighters were continuing to snuff out the last of the remaining fire.
Hinsdale was on scene to provide rehabilitation service as the temperatures were below freezing. Both Action Ambulance and County Ambulance were on scene throughout providing assistance. The Red Cross was on hand as well.
The cold weather was a particular factor in trying to get equipment stabilized to fight the fire.
"The ice and cold. Obviously the streets are pretty well frozen up. City yard came out with a sander and tried to get the sand down as best as we can. The problem with that is until we can get down to the pavement, the ladder trucks will slide around on the ice. That's why it was important to get the sanders here early," Czerwinski said.
A portion of Dalton Avenue and Tyler Street was closed for hours and Czerwinski expected that to remain until the afternoon.