Officials evict squatters near site of Roxbury fire

By John M. Guilfoil
Globe Staff / September 5, 2010

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Two weeks after one of the largest fires in recent Boston history, city agents descended yesterday on a warehouse complex in Roxbury, issuing code violations and evicting tenants from illegal apartments, officials said.

Fire investigators quickly determined that illegal fireworks sparked the Aug. 21 nine-alarm fire that gutted a vacant industrial complex on Norfolk Avenue in Roxbury. During their investigation, officials found that a group of men on a nearby rooftop were shooting off the fireworks, some of which landed on the roof of a warehouse at 57 Norfolk Ave., where the blaze began.

Yesterday morning, a task force of Fire Department, Police Department, Health Department, and Inspectional Services Division officials raided buildings at 34 Norfolk Ave. and 24 Howard St. and found illegal apartments and tenants living under a litany of building code violations, said Steve MacDonald, a Fire Department spokesman.

“There was a whole host of health code and building code violations,’’ MacDonald said.

There was an illegal recording studio in the building. A previously reported auto shop has been shut down, and gallons of solvent and other flammable materials were found, MacDonald said. There was also exposed electrical wiring that posed a hazard.

The tenants were ordered to leave. NStar was called in, and electrical service was disconnected. The buildings were boarded up and will be condemned by the city, MacDonald said.

Candeloro Maggio, who owns the building that burned down as well as the buildings with the illegal apartments, will be called before Inspectional Services Division officials for a hearing on Sept. 14, when he could face stiff fines and sanctions.

The fire was epic in size and speed, and smoke could be seen for miles. Prior planning was cited for preventing firefighter injury. In particular, Chief Erik Pettaway was hailed by Mayor Thomas M. Menino for his quick thinking after he ordered firefighters to back away from the building seconds before a wall collapsed.

At its peak, about 170 Boston firefighters battled the fire.

John M. Guilfoil can be reached at

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