Fire starts near arson sites

John Ruch

Cause unknown; firefighter injured

PARKSIDE—A mysterious fire broke out on Dec. 30 in a house under construction at 24 Sigourney St., right across the street from a condo complex that was hit with two arsons last winter. The cause of the blaze is still “under investigation,” but it did not immediately show signs of arson, according to the Boston Fire Department (BFD).

A firefighter was seriously injured in a fall inside the smouldering house, according to BFD spokesperson Steve MacDonald. The firefighter will recover, but will be off the job for at least two months with broken bones, he said.

The two-alarm fire was called in shortly after 5 a.m. and was mostly contained within a single second-story room, according to MacDonald. He estimated the damage at $100,000.

Jamaica Plain has been hit with a series of at least nine business and house arsons since 2005. That includes two fires—one by Molotov cocktail and one using burning car tires—at the 2-22 Sigourney St. condo complex.

The 24 Sigourney fire was “obviously right next door” to those crime spots, MacDonald said. But, he added, there were no obvious signs of arson, such as burned tires. The Dec. 30 blaze happened indoors, while the arson fires have all been set from outside of the buildings.

“[The fire] doesn’t make sense to me,” said Taba Moses, the general contractor on the 24 Sigourney house, in a Gazette interview. Taba Moses is working on the project with its local owner, Robert Moses. Taba Moses said the building is well-secured and clean.

“There were no combustibles upstairs or anything,” Taba Moses said. He said he is aware of the nearby arsons and added that a homeless person accidentally setting a fire on the cold night is another possibility.

MacDonald said the building site has a temporary electric line that is switched off at night, and portable heaters that were not near the fire scene. Investigators are examining the scene, including for the possibility of a discarded cigarette, MacDonald said.

Robert Moses is building the project on the site of a decaying old house that was torn down earlier this year. In 2008, local residents generally voiced support at a city hearing for the construction plan, in part because of fears the old house might burn down, as the Gazette reported at the time.

“It’s a setback. It’s not going to stop us from finishing it,” Taba Moses said of the new project, which already had walls and windows.

A firefighter from the Grove Hall station was injured when he fell face-first 10 feet down a hole in the smoke-filled house, MacDonald said. Fellow firefighters “rolled him over, and his face was covered in blood,” MacDonald said. The firefighter suffered facial injuries and a broken collarbone and ribs. Another firefighter fell down the same hole, but escaped without serious injury.

Even though the house was under construction, firefighters still had to make sure that no one was trapped inside, MacDonald said. The injured firefighter fell while making that search.

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