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Three Somerville fires ruled arson: $15k reward offered

Posted by Jarret Bencks  August 19, 2013 02:37 PM

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Three house fires in Somerville this summer have been deemed arson, and three others are suspicious and remain under investigation, officials said Monday.

Rewards of up to $15,000 are being offered for information that leads to an arrest or arrests in connection to the fires. The state is offering $5,000 and the city is offering $10,000, Mayor Joseph Curtatone said in a press conference at the Somerville Police Headquarters Monday afternoon.

"We will spare no resource or expense to apprehend any perpetrators of these events," Curtatone said. "...We are not taking this lightly."

A total of nine house fires have broken out in Somerville since June 27. Three of them have been determined accidental. Officials would not say which of the other six had been determined arson, or describe details that led to that conclusion.

Fires at 106 Walnut St. on June 27, 27 Lake St. and 46 Belmont St. on July 19, 25 Lewis St. and 68 Dane St. on July 12, and the most severe fire on Calvin Street and Beacon Place on July 25 are among the six that have either been labeled arson or remain under investigation.

The fires have caused millions of dollars in damages, but no one have suffered severe injuries.

"We've really dodged a bullet here," Curatone said. "There's clearly been structural and monetary damage, but you can replace that."

State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said each of the fires was being investigated individually, but would not rule out a connection between them.

Somerville Deputy Police Chief Paul Upton said the fires were being investigated by a team that includes local police, the state fire marshal's office, Cambridge police, the FBI, and ATF officers from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Investigators are asking that anyone with information call the state's arson hotline at 1-800-682-9229.

Jarret Bencks can be reached at bencks.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on twitter @JarretBencks.

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