SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

September 13, 2012

Scooter is suspected origin of fire

SALEM — Fire officials say an early morning blaze at 270 Washington St. started “at or near” a motor scooter that was parked next to the building.

The two-alarm fire caused $60,000 in damage and displaced the building’s 10 residents. No injuries were reported.

“We believe the fire originated at or near the scooter, but we cannot pinpoint whether or not it was the scooter itself that started the fire,” firefighter John Roth said. “(The scooter) was definitely totaled and fully engulfed, and (the fire) extended into the building.”

A resident of the building spotted flames just before 2 a.m. and called 911. Fire spread into the building’s basement through a window and traveled to the upper floors through a plumbing encasement.

Firefighters were on the scene for roughly two hours, working to ensure the fire didn’t spread to neighboring buildings, including Major Magleashe’s Pub next door.

American Red Cross volunteers responded before daybreak, and the organization provided temporary hotel rooms for two residents of the building last night. The Red Cross also provided debit cards to cover emergency food for several other residents, said Kat Powers, Red Cross spokeswoman.

The Fire and Police departments are working together to investigate the fire and determine the cause, Roth said. Nothing — including arson — has been ruled out at this point, he said yesterday.

City building inspectors responded to the property yesterday and gave permission for residents to return, except the occupants of the first-floor unit on the right side, nearest to where the motor scooter was parked.

Yesterday afternoon, the charred remains of the scooter sat next to the building. Many of the windows were covered in plywood, and black scorch marks could be seen on the side of the building, up to the third floor.

City records show the building is owned by Patricia Egnet White of Haverhill; she could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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