Man hospitalized after fire at Pittsfield restaurant has died

PITTSFIELD, Mass. (NEWS10) — Pittsfield Fire officials have confirmed the man injured in a fire near his unit above the Tahiti Restaurant on Wahconah Street has died from fire-related injuries.

There were close to 30 firefighters, including mutual aid, fighting a blaze at Tahiti Restaurant on Wahconah Street the morning of December 8. Most of the damage is on the second floor where there are some apartments, and that’s where officials believe the fire started.

“It’s going to be a big loss,” said Don Kowalczyk.

Don Kowalczyk of Pittsfield just couldn’t stay away when he heard that the longtime restaurant caught fire early Thursday morning. He had to see it for himself.

“I remember it since I was a child,” Kowalczyk added. “It’s always been like the place to go to get, you know, scorpion bowls and really good food. The dining-in there was good. The people were great.”

According to the Pittsfield Fire Chief, a call came in just before 4:30 Thursday morning at 101 Wahconah Street.

When firefighters arrived at the Tahiti Take Out Restaurant, heavy flames had engulfed the second floor of the building. Six people in total were able to get out okay.

They frantically told firefighters there was still one man trapped inside the second floor. Firefighters were able to run upstairs and get him out.

Pittsfield Fire Department says the 72-year-old man was taken to Berkshire Medical Center and then transferred to UMass Medical Center for severe burns.

“Our crew from engine 5, Lt. D’Avella and probationary firefighter Jarrett Robittaille made their way up to the second floor, did a quick search and rescue, found the victim in the back in the fire unit, grabbed him and brought him down to the street,” said Pittsfield Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski. “He’s an elderly gentlemen so that kind of compromises some of the health aspects.”

The hospital the man is at says he is in critical condition.

“We believe this occupant was in a single room,” Czerwinski explained. “The fire started someplace in the back of the building. We think somewhere near his unit. We currently have fire investigators from Pittsfield fire, the Pittsfield Police Department and the state fire marshal’s office doing an investigation.”

Officials say traffic will be shut down on Wahconah Street between Briggs Avenue and Charles Street for most of the day.

As for the restaurant, that will remain closed for now. Repair crews are on scene but there’s no telling what will happen to this building now.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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