Overnight fires in Quincy, Hanson investigated for links to suspected arson spree

11/27/2012 QUINCY, MA Investigators inspect a badly burned building at 488 Quincy Avenue (cq) in Quincy. The cause of the fire is believed to be arson. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)
Investigators pored over the Quincy scene this morning.
Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Investigators are probing blazes in Quincy and Hanson this morning where two unoccupied buildings burned overnight in what may be the latest in a string of arson fires that has hit at least six communities in the past five weeks.

State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said in a telephone interview that the early morning fire in Hanson destroyed an unoccupied building on Main Street.

“The series of fires we are looking at clearly involve vacant or unoccupied structures,’’ Coan said in a telephone interview from the Hanson scene. “In so far as this one was vacant, it does, in fact, at least cause concern that it fits the profile.’’

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He said, however, that the fire is still smoldering and investigators have not been able to get inside to search for the cause and origin of the blaze. “It was very well involved on the arrival of firefighters on scene,’’ Coan said.

Coan also said that one of the state troopers assigned to his office is in Quincy where an unoccupied home burned overnight.

He stressed that the inquiry into the Quincy fire is still in the early stages, and that he is not in a position to say what connection, if any, there is to the arson fires already under investigation.

At the Quincy fire scene this morning, a group of investigators combed through charred debris inside a two-story house at the corner of Quincy Avenue and E. Howard Street that had been vacant for at least a year.

“Right now, investigators are looking at how it started, and after they find that out, then will make a determination of whether it was accidental or intentional,” said Paul Griffith, Quincy deputy fire chief. The fire started at about 1:30 a.m., and was put out by 5 a.m.

“There was some difficulty getting to the attic,” he said. The fire started in the back of the house, in the rear stairwell.

Coan appealed to the public to contact investigators with any information they may have about any of the fires by calling the arson hotline 1-800-682-9229. Coan said the hotline is active 24 hours a day and that callers can leave confidential information if they choose to do so when they call.

Coan also said that as a matter of routine, agents of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives are now part of the investigation. He said the agents have visited a number of the fire scenes recently.

Since the end of September, at least 10 fires of suspicious origin have burned vacant homes, garages, and abandoned buildings in Plympton, Halifax, Sandwich, Raynham, Easton, and Middleborough.

On Monday, a fire was reported inside an abandoned, unoccupied house at 266 Monponsett St. in Halifax about 3 a.m. About 5:30 a.m., another fire broke out at a garage at 103 Main St. in Plympton and those two fires are among those under investigation as possibly having been started by the same person or persons, according to Coan’s office.

Fire chiefs in some of those communities told the Globe Monday that they are not yet convinced the fires in their communities are connected to blazes elsewhere.