NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — An early morning fire forced the evacuation of about 18 people from a boarding house on Union Street.
The fire started in a back common kitchen on the top floor about 2 a.m. and spread up through a vent. It took almost two hours to ensure it was it completely out.
Fire Chief Stephen Meranti said the department was familiar with the building and has responded to burnt food in the past.
"This time it extend up into the exhaust fan got up into the area above the ceiling, it followed the ductwork," he said. "It was burning on top of the stove — that set the sprinklers off — but it was also burning above the ceiling."
Some occupants of the building at 174-178 Union St. were coming out as firefighters were going in and they assisted the rest in exiting the building. More than a dozen people, some wrapped in blankets passed out by Northern Berkshire EMS, watched firefighters tackled the stubborn blaze.
Smoke was coming out of the top of the 1910 three-story building when first-responders arrived on the scene. It billowed out of the open porch in the back connecting the structure to 8 Rand St. and out the front eaves.
An all call was sent out to bring in all three shifts. Northern Berkshire EMS and Wire & Alarm also responded along with Berkshire Gas and National Grid.
"The guys did a great job knocking it down in real, real smoky conditions," Meranti said. "The did a really good job."
The structure suffered significant smoke and water damage as well as some structural damage. Meranti thought the entire upper floor would have to be gutted.
"Right now we're trying to save the utilities because that building in the back is fed from this building in the front," he said. "The owner has contractors here for gas and electricity. They're trying to salvage the utilities over here to keep that building (8 Rand) up and running."
The electrical and sprinkler lines run through both buildings so have to be capped or shunted so the Rand Street building would not have to be closed. It also has about 20 rooms with common areas.
Those who had to evacuate were taken by Northern Berkshire Transport to First Baptist Church where the Rev. David Anderson was working to get them a place stay for the night.
Both buildings are owned by Union Rand Nominee Trust, part of the Ransford Properties portfolio.
The structure is also the home of the popular Linda's Cafe, which had closed earlier in the week because of the emergency orders related to the novel coronavirus..
Pittsfield.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.