Paolo Mastrangelo at Northamptonist has kindly given us permission to reprint his article from December 7:
Three More Fires Reported This Morning; Nine Total In Neighborhood This Year. Ward 3 Councilor To Set Up Ward-Wide Meeting With Residents And Officials.
The sign [above] has been plastered throughout the Hawley St. neighborhood, having been affixed to telephone poles just today. They were put up this evening by state fire investigators who are investigating a rash of fires in the neighborhood. Which ones and how many they are investigating is unclear. More information on this story should be forthcoming very soon. Click on the map below (zoom in or out if need be) for brief information on the location and dates of the nine reported fires this year in the area.
This evening, the Gazette online has reported three car fires set this morning. One on Hawley St., one on Market, and one on Summer St., bringing the total number of suspicious fires this year to nine. After the fifth suspicious fire in November, which the Daily Hampshire Gazette reported was suspected arson -as well as the previous four fires in the neighborhood- Northamptonist sent an email to the Fire Chief, among others.
“Was that an accurate statement by the Gazette? Does the NFD believe the recent rash of fires on Hawley St were arson? If so, can you offer any further information about this matter?”
Chief Duggan responded, “I appreciate your e-mail and concern. The fires you referenced remain under investigation. However, we do not believe that the recent car fire is related to the other incidents.”
One of those incidents I believe the Gazette referenced was a blaze that destroyed a house on the corner of Hancock and Williams St., in June of 2006. That fire is not noted in the map above, though it is a suspected arson and which the nine latest fires this year followed.
After today’s report in the Gazette, I sent another email to relevant parties, requesting they comment publicly about this issue, asking them to let us know what they know, and to inform residents on how best they can protect themselves. The residents of Northampton, and Ward 3 in particular, need information from officials, as best they can provide it. And we shouldn’t have to wait until the tenth suspected arson occurs.
I was told by the Mayor’s office this evening that the Mayor has been in constant contact with Police and Fire officials throughout the day today. As well, I have been informed by another source that Marilyn Richards, Ward 3 city councilor, said the city is taking the situation very seriously and has called in the state Fire Marshal for assistance regarding the recent fires. Marilyn will be meeting with the mayor, police chief, fire chief, and state fire marshal on Monday about the situation. She will set up a public ward-wide meeting with these officials to speak with the residents of the ward about the issue.