Man Sets Self on Fire, Walks into Neighbor's House in Mass.


A Pittsfield family rushed to evacuate their burning home Sunday afternoon after their neighbor lit himself on fire and entered their house through a side door, police said.

The fire seriously damaged the Madison Avenue home of Stephen and Carla Prendergast.

The Berkshire Eagle reported that no one in the Prendergast home was injured.

Police have not released the identity of the burned neighbor. His injuries were reported as serious and was airlifted to a Boston-area hospital, said police.

The incident is being considered a suicide attempt, police said, although they don't know why the man would have entered his neighbor's home.

Once the Prendergasts, including their son, Stephen Prendergast II, 24, exited their house they said they saw an officer trying to douse their neighbor with their garden hose on the porch steps.

The family told the paper they did not have a problem with their neighbor, or his girlfriend, Jodi Lablake, who have lived in the house next door for about a month. They said they were shaken by the incident.

"I feel badly, but he jeopardized my family," Stephen Prendergast said.

The fire caused severe damage to an enclosed porch, which the family was using as a storage area for their son while he searched for a new apartment, said Prendergast.

A bed, clothing and other items were burned. Prendergast's 1978 Corvette, parked near the burned area, was also damaged.

The Prendergasts have lived at 158 Madison Ave. for about 15 years, they said. They added they've had several issues with neighbors through the years.

"You cannot believe the history we've had with neighbors," said Carla Prendergast.

Police have not determined if they will charge the man for causing the fire.

It's likely he will be given a psychiatric evaluation when he recovers, police said.

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