Owner of Back Bay Building Sues Welding Company in Fatal Fire

The owner of the Back Bay building where a nine-alarm fire killed two firefighters in March is suing the welding company that officials said caused the fire, WCVB reports.

The lawsuit was filed by Herbert Lerman, the executor of an estate that owns 298 Beacon Street, against Oliver Realty LP, the owners of 296 Beacon Street, and D & J Iron Works of Malden, the welding company, and its owner, Guiseppe Falcone.

"Lerman is informed and believes that neither Oliver Realty LP nor D & J nor Falcone requested a permit from the City of Boston to perform the welding work," the suit states. "Lerman is informed and believes that neither Oliver Realty LP nor D & J nor Falcone had a firefighter or 'fire watcher' present at the site, maintained a fire extinguisher at the site, or placed a fire resistant shield or guard to prevent ignition of combustible construction materials."

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The fatal fire broke out at an eight-unit apartment building at 298 Beacon Street on March 26. Officials said the fire was caused by a stray spark from welders working nearby at 296 Beacon Street. Officials previously said they believed the fast-moving blaze started in the basement and was fueled by strong winds coming off of the Charles River.

Michael R. Kennedy (left) and Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh Jr.
AP/Boston Fire Department

The fire claimed the lives of Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh Jr., 43, of West Roxbury and Michael R. Kennedy, 33, of Hyde Park. Several others were injured in the blaze.

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans previously said he believed the fire was unintentional, but the Suffolk District Attorney’s office would determine if there should be charges. That investigation is ongoing.

Federal investigators at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are also looking into the fire to determine what led to the deaths of the two firefighters.

Oliver Realty previously said in a statement that it contracted a third party to install safety railings.

“It was the company’s understanding that these railings would be prefabricated offsite,” said Oliver Realty spokeswoman Diana C. Pisciotta, who added that the company planned to conduct its own review.