Investigators have not yet officially named the source of the fire that destroyed two apartments and damaged two others at Marion Village Estates off Front Street the night of February 19, but Fire Chief Thomas Joyce said Tuesday, February 24 that a propane construction heater in use was likely the cause.
“It appears to be unintentional and accidental,” said Joyce. “It all sort of proved non-suspicious in the end.”
Joyce said Deputy Chief Joseph Dayton, leading the investigation, is still handling paperwork for the case, but inspection of the scene leads to the conclusion that a propane heater that was used that evening to dry fresh plasterwork somehow tipped over, igniting the floor and burning downward.
“Based on where it started and how it burned,” said Joyce, “that’s where the heat source was.”
Firefighters who arrived at the scene at about 6:30 pm observed that some housing units appeared to have been entered by force, rousing suspicion of a possible arson. However, workers at the development who first spotted the fire said they initially busted into the units in their attempt to put out the fire as emergency response was en route.
Initial 911 calls reported a fire and billowing smoke coming from one of the complexes at the affordable housing development still under construction behind BrewFish.
The first police officer that arrived at the scene sounded a second alarm and mutual aid was called from the Mattapoisett, Rochester, and Wareham Fire Departments.
At about 7:00 pm, command on the scene called for the evacuation of all firefighting personal from the building for safety reasons, and a third alarm was sounded at 7:20 pm, requesting aid from Plymouth County Fire.
Weather conditions were windy with frigid cold wind chill temperatures.
There were no injuries reported and the housing units were unoccupied.
Manager of Marion Village Estates Ken Steen could not be reached for comment.
By Jean Perry