(press release sent to WSBS from the Great Barrington Fire Department for on air and online use late Tuesday evening. All photos used by permission) 

GREAT BARRINGTON -- Chief Charles Burger reports that the Great Barrington Fire Department extinguished a fire at Pizza House on State Road early Tuesday morning.

At approximately 3:30 a.m., Great Barrington firefighters were dispatched to Pizza House, 36 State Road, for a report of a structure fire with tenants possibly trapped on the floor above.

Upon arrival, firefighters observed heavy fire venting from the first floor kitchen windows and smoke coming from the remainder of the building. Tenants were able to escape the building prior to firefighters' reaching the scene, but there was still some uncertainty about whether or not a second apartment was occupied at the time the fire started.

Firefighters made an aggressive interior attack and conducted an efficient and thorough search of the second floor while battling extreme heat and zero visibility inside the building. Their search confirmed that there were no tenants left inside, and crews were able to quickly knock down the flames.

Once the fire was extinguished, firefighters remained on scene to extinguish hot spots. The firefighting effort was complicated by the fact that the building has been renovated and added onto multiple times during its lifespan, creating hidden areas that could potentially allow a fire to extend more easily.

"Our crews did an excellent job limiting the damage despite the challenges posed by this particular structure, which has been a fixture in town for decades," Chief Burger said. "I'm extremely grateful that a tragedy was avoided this morning, and I'm hopeful that Pizza House will be able to rebuild and the residents will be able to return home soon."

The Great Barrington Fire Department was assisted on scene by Great Barrington Police, the Sheffield Fire Department and Southern Berkshire Ambulance.

Fire damage was limited to the first floor kitchen and a second floor bathroom, but there was smoke damage throughout the entire building.

Residents in the upstairs apartments suffered from smoke inhalation that is not believed to be serious, and later went to the hospital on their own to seek medical treatment.

Displaced tenants were able to make alternative arrangements for shelter.

The fire was investigated by the Great Barrington Fire Department and State Fire Marshal's Office, and is believed to have been caused by an electrical failure.


A first-floor fire at 36 State Road was believed to have been caused by an electrical failure. (Courtesy Photo Brian Mead)

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