Fires Strike Downtown Neighborhoods; Two Die

Today’s Gazette reports:

Arsonist stalks Northampton: Two men die in night of multiple fires, task force takes up probe

…14 fire departments were called in to help Northampton firefighters respond to at least nine fires authorities believe were deliberately set, all in neighborhoods on the eastern fringe of the city a short walk from downtown.

Two people – believed to be Paul Yeskie Sr. and Paul Yeskie Jr. of 17 Fair St. – died in the fire at their home…

“[Residents] can be totally assured we will have extra patrols out there,” said Police Chief Russell P. Sienkiewicz, though he declined to say how many officers will join those patrols, or what strategy his department will use to safeguard its citizens…

The first fire, reported at 2 a.m. [on Sunday], struck the home of Glenn Siegel and Laura Seftel at 26 Union St., leaving the structure ruined.

Calls came in quickly after that, summoning help to combat fires on Highland Avenue, Fair Street, Northern Avenue, Crescent Street (near its intersection with Summer Street) and Williams Street…
Google map of recent local suspicious fires:

View Northampton Fires in a larger map

WWLP Springfield: 2 dead after series of 11 fires

A message today from the Ward 3 Neighborhood Association:

To: Members of the Ward 3 Neighborhood Association
Re: Overnight Fires in Ward 3
From: Jerry Budgar, President

I thought it important to send out information about the fact our ward was hit with a number of fires last night that, this time, resulted in the deaths of two people on Fair Street. I have been in contact with several members of the board and with incoming Councillor Angela Plassmann, and we all agreed to keep each other informed and updated on this situation. I also want to reiterate the importance of reporting ANYTHING out of the ordinary in your neighborhoods, no matter how inconsequential it might seem, to the Police and Fire Department officials, who are doing an intensive investigation at 587-1100.

My understanding is that the fires occurred early this morning, in a limited window from around 1a.m. to just after 3 a.m.. If you saw anything suspicious or unusual in your neighborhood around those hours, please call in the information to authorities…

See also:

Facebook Group: Friends of Northampton Arson Victims – Discussion

Springfield Republican: “Northampton officials investigate rash of fires that killed 2 people” (12/27/09)
Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth D. Scheibel announced Sunday afternoon the creation of a joint task force involving state, local and federal officials to provide a coordinated effort to keep the city safe and to find the person or people responsible for causing the fires…

Gov. Deval L. Patrick, wearing jeans and parka, came in from his home in Richmond to thank the firefighters and also offer the state’s support. He said “every resource on the state and local level is being applied to find the person and persons,” involved, he said.

Scheibel said members of the federal Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is also assisting. She said they are treating all fires as separate with separate investigating teams.

Northampton Media: “Northampton Fire Update; Photos” (12/27/09)

Video: Ward 3 Community Meeting about Unresolved Fires, 11/24/09

Northampton Media: “Ward Three Fires: No Pattern” (11/25/09)

Gazette: “Ward 3 neighbors in Northampton seek handle on suspect fires” (11/25/09)
Ward 3 City Councilor-elect Angela Plassmann said she’d like to organize the neighborhood watch and encourage people to sign up after the meeting.

Gazette: “In Our Opinion: New fire, new unease” (11/14/09)

Northamptonist: Arson Confirmed In Recent Rash Of Fires On Hawley St. (12/8/07)