NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A two-family home at the corner of Cady and North streets went up in flames Saturday morning.
Fire Chief Stephen Meranti said the call came in at 5:12 a.m. for a possible structure fire, which was confirmed by police reaching the scene. Northern Berkshire EMS personnel said they had headed up from the department's headquarters on Harris Street on hearing the call and found the structure fully involved with flames coming through the roof.
It was believed that all occupants had gotten out or were not in the building when the fire consumed the top floor and attic. Meranti said one occupant, who apparently was able to flee safely with her dog, was confirmed safe. There was only one other possible resident authorities were aware of.
"It started on the upper levels and it was through the roof when we got here," Meranti said. "We did a quick search of the lower level and started a defensive operation, then moved to an interior operation."
The fire was an all-call with all equipment and firefighters at the scene. Clarksburg Volunteer Fire Department sent its airpack truck and the Department of Public Works sent a truck to sand the steep street to prevent ice buildup as firefighters attacked the blaze with hoses.
By 6:20, the fire was largely out but firefighters were still using hoses and axes on what was left of the second floor and attic to put out smaller fires.
"The roof fell in and kind of buries everything so we have to pull through all of it to find the hot spots," the chief said.
Smoke was still rising from the blackened top floor and the roof was completely gone.
Meranti said the cause was unknown at this point but the fire marshal had been called in to help with the investigation.
"It got into the attic very quickly if it didn't start there," he said. "Before the occupant even knew it, it was well involved."
The city's Wire & Alarm had also responded to the scene and National Grid and Berkshire Gas arrived to disconnect the utilities. North Street was blocked off between Williams and Cady streets. The Fire Department cleared the scene at about 9 a.m. but Truck 5 stayed on scene for fire watch.
The house sits at 66-68 Cady St. on a rise on the north corner of the intersection with North. The 10-room, 1870 structure is owned by Edward M. Rich, according to documents on file with the assessor's office.
The fire made dramatic early morning dawn for residents on North Street. Nicholas Mantello, the Fire Department's official photographer, said he could see the glow from his home about a block away. City Councilor Keith Bona, who lives a few doors down on North Street, posted about 5:30 a.m. showing flames bursting from the roof and second-floor windows.
Firefighters dealt with temperatures in the upper teens battling the blaze.
"The guys did a great job. We had to contend with icing on the roadway but the DPW is here to put some sand down, and Northern Berkshire EMS is on scene providing rehab for the firefighters," the chief said. "We had a good team working tonight."
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