Fire officials in Southeastern Massachusetts probing series of suspicious fires
State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan has joined with police and firefighters in several Southeastern Massachusetts communities to investigate whether an arsonist has been setting a wave of fires in vacant or abandoned buildings in the past several weeks.
Coan’s office issued a statement today saying that two fires early today — one in Halifax and the second in Plympton — were deliberately set. But whether they are connected to each other is still a subject of investigation, the statement said.
According to Coan and the Halifax fire department, the first fire was discovered burning inside an abandoned and unoccupied house at 266 Monponsett St. in Halifax around 3 a.m. Around 5:30 a.m., a garage at 103 Main St. in Plympton — located about 2½ miles away from the first fire scene — was set.
Two Halifax firefighters were taken to local hospitals for injuries sustained at the scene and were discharged a short while later, fire officials said.
In an interview today, Middleborough Fire Chief Lance Benjamino said his department had responded to four suspicious fires in the past five weeks, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage and potentially threatening the lives of neighbors and firefighters alike.
“We’ve had a run of suspicious fires’’ in Middleborough, Benjamino said in a telephone interview. “We are investigating to see where they are linked or not.”
Benjamino said that because of the ongoing investigation of the fires in his town and in Halifax and Plympton, he would not discuss whether an accelerant was used to start the fires, whether someone has claimed responsibility, or what investigators have found in charred buildings that suggest the fires may have a common cause.
“There is a couple of different things that we are looking at,’’ Benjamino said. “We don’t want to comment too much on that right now.’’
Benjamino said his department, along with Middleborough police, are now assessing all vacant properties in town to make sure firefighters know where the nearest water supply is and to make sure the structures are properly sealed.
He said two of the four fires in Middleborough were in properties that were for sale, the most recent of which took place on Thanksgiving in a home at 105 Thompson St. A fire at 691 Williams St. destroyed a garage, but firefighters were able to save the house, he said.
Benjamino said that even though the fires in his town have involved unoccupied properties, they pose a major public safety threat.
“It’s always a threat to lives and also a threat to our guys, to the firefighters who are responding,’’ Bejamino said.Katheleen Conti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org