Firefighters and police responded to a fire at 4 Isbell St. on Monday.
A kitten was discovered inside the apartment and given to a neighbor to care for. At left, a washing machine was removed from the unit; authorities believe the fire started near the appliance.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A local woman was taken to the hospital after neighbors helped her escape a fire in her apartment at 4 Isbell St. on Monday evening.
The cause of the smoky blaze is still under investigation but authorities believe it was started by a lamp falling on flammable materials in the bedroom, near a washing machine. The appliance and some material was taken out of the building.
Neighbors said they pounded on the doors and window to alert the occupant, who they identified as Patricia Heller, to the smoke they saw coming from the one-story unit on the end of Isbell Street in the Greylock Valley Apartments. Tabatha Rogers said her sister, Heather Rohane, noticed the commotion and told her there was a fire.
When she looked out, she could see someone yelling at the bathroom window in the house behind hers but at first thought it was a child playing games. Then she saw the smoke.
"She didn't know how to put the locks down. ... She thought I was talking about the regular locks," said Rogers, referring to the child safety locks that prevent the windows from opening all the way. "She was yelling 'help,' somebody please help me out this window."
Rogers said it took three tries, with the apartment's occupant becoming increasingly panicked, of closing the window before she was able to manage the locks and be helped out. "It was filling up with a lot of smoke," Rogers said.
The incident was reported at 5:09 p.m. as a structure fire with persons trapped inside. Fire Director Stephen Meranti said police were first on the scene and found Heller already outside.
The first truck on the scene saw smoke and lights. "They stretched the hand line in and found fire in the bedroom," said Meranti. "Just the contents of the room were burning, it didn't get into the structure at all."
Smoke could still be seen coming from the building about a half-hour later. Three trucks were at the scene along with Fire & Alarm and the North Adams Ambulance Service, which broke out water bottles for the firefighters. A neighbors in the residential development crowded along the sidewalk to watch.
The victim was taken to North Adams Regional Hospital by the North Adams Ambulance Service for smoke inhalation. A dog was already outside and a small gray kitten was found by firefighters inside but didn't seem injured.
Meranti said the apartment was not livable and the health inspector was expected to condemn the apartment. The resident, whom neighbors said was planning to move, had somewhere else to go for the night and the Red Cross was being alerted.
"The Housing authority is here and they're going to get right in there and clean it up," said Meranti.
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