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Pittsfield fire has some wondering if it was arson
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Was it arson? That's the question on people's minds in Pittsfield, Massachusetts where a late-night fire ripped through a three-story apartment on Davis Avenue displacing three families and sending one firefighter to the hospital.Neighbors are concerned about a sign posted by Arson Watch-- a group run by the State Fire Marshal's Office-- that says, "Reward up to $5,000 if you know who did this call 1-800-682-9229."Investigators say the official cause is still undetermined and they are hoping the sign will help generate the information they need to figure out what happened, whether it be arson or not.
However, the sign is leaving the people who lived in the apartment building on edge.
"We've been hearing arson. There's a sign up that says it's arson," Edwin Sutton said. "It was just scary, you know, and then the smoke started coming in through the downstairs."
Sutton says he, his wife and his three young grandchildren got out of the burning apartment in the nick of time. He says he wouldn't be surprised if there is more to the Arson Watch sign than investigators are letting on.
"A lot of drug activity in this neighborhood. It's a good neighborhood but drug activity is running [rampant,]" Sutton said.
Investigators though are insisting the cause is undetermined and they have not confirmed any sort of connection between the fire and any criminal activity in the neighborhood.
The State Fire Marshal's office says it's routine for them to investigate fires when departments call for their assistance and fire crews in Pittsfield say the fire stretched their crews thin.
Two Pittsfield firefighters suffered from heat exhaustion and while one was treated at the scene that other was taken to the hospital. Both are expected to be okay.
"It was a second alarm fire, which means all on-duty personnel to the scene and then we back-fill the stations with call-in personnel that were off-duty at the time," Pittsfield Fire Department Deputy Chief Mike Polidoro said.
Meanwhile, six of the seven people who lived in the apartment building got out safely but one family dog was killed. Neighbors say the seventh person who lived in the apartment building was not home at the time of the fire but now they will be searching for a new place to live.
"The thing I'm most concerned about is we're all alive, so thank God for that," Sutton said.
The Red Cross is helping the families that need it and neighbors have given clothing to the three children displaced by the fire. The owner of the property also has insurance and he says each family will get $750 to help them relocate.
As for the investigation, if you think you know anything about what started this fire call the Pittsfield Fire Department at (413) 448-9764.