By Susan Bush - March 29, 2007
Williamstown Fire Chief Craig Pedercini
Williamstown - This morning's pre-dawn Spring Street fire is under investigation and has closed a trio of popular business indefinitely.
Town Fire Chief Craig Pedercini said that no cause has yet been determined for the fire that is believed to have started in a basement beneath the Perfect Blend coffee shop. The building, which also houses a Subway sandwich shop and the Purple Pub on Bank Street, is owned by Paresky family and is managed by Mark Paresky.
Purple Pub, Subway, Perfect Blend Closed
Town police Officer Joe Ross discovered the fire at about 3:38 a.m. while on patrol, said Pedercini. The town fire department was called to battle the blaze and about 10 minutes later, firefighters from the Pownal Protective Fire Association in Pownal, Vt.and the Clarksburg
Volunteer Fire department were called to the scene. The Clarksburg
department was called specifically for its RIT capabilities. RIT is a specially-trained firefighter unit that specializes in firefighter rescue.
Police tape bars access to a Spring Street building burned during a March 29 fire.
A subsequent decision brought Adams firefighters to the scene with a truck capable of refilling firefighter breathing equipment.
"[Purple Pub, Subway, Perfect Blend] are closed indefinitely," said Pedercini. "We're waiting for the building inspector, who will have to see what's going on in the [Subway and Purple Pub] buildings. The structure under the coffee shop is just about burned away. The heavy part of the fire was underneath the [coffee shop]."
Town Health Inspector Jeffrey Kennedy said he completed a preliminary inspection of the businesses' food service capabilities and agreed that the businesses will be closed for the immediate future and possibly beyond, depending on subsequent inspections.
"A Tough Fire"
Pedercini reported no firefighter injuries during the blaze.
"It was a tough fire," he said. "It was in the basement and that's where we encountered the heavy fire. Once we realized that's where all the fire was, we changed our tactics a little bit. We cut vent holes in the floor to let some of the smoke and heat escape."
Pedercini said firefighters brought the blaze under control at about 5:30 a.m..
Purple Pub owner Mary Michel and pub manager Liz Chesbro were at the scene during the mid-morning.
"This is devastating, it's a business owner's worst nightmare," said Michel, who has operated the pub from the same location for 34 years.
"I have no idea when we can reopen."
The pub interior does not appear to be severely damaged, she noted.
Michel said that she was notified of the fire by an employee who'd been contacted by her father about the fire.
Firefighters and police would not be expected to notify business owners of the blaze, Michael said and added "They were doing what they should be doing; fighting the fire."
Michel said that pub employees ceased daily operations at about 12:30 a.m. and noticed nothing out of the ordinary at that time. Ross should be credited for his police investigation into the smell of smoke some three hours later, she said.
"He's the one that saved the building," Michel said.
Building damage estimates had not been calculated, Pedercini said.
Michel said that the costs to the businesses will be high. All three business will lose revenue for every day they are closed, and employees will lose their daily wages.
Pedercini said the building was insured and Michel said her business is also insured. Pedercini said he believes the coffee shop and the Subway shop also carried insurance.
Two state fire investigators were at the fire scene this morning.
Additional information about the Spring Street fire may be found at www.iberkshires.com/story.php?story_id=22721
Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-663-3384 ext. 29.