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Arson suspected in Rockland barn fire
By Mikaela Slaney, Rockland Standard
Fri Jun 20, 2008, 04:19 PM EDT
After ruling out other possibilities, investigators have deemed that a June 4 fire at a barn on 425 Hingham Street was intentionally ignited.
Jennifer Mieth, public information officer at the State Fire Marshal’s office, said the fire has been deemed to have been caused by arson, after a joint investigation found no other possible causes at the site.
Mieth said she could only offer limited details to support the theory because she does not want to taint any future interviews with witnesses who may have seen the fire, who might obtain information from the media.
Mieth said the State Fire Marshal’s office is hoping the possible $5,000 reward may entice people to call the fire Marshall’s office at (800)-682-9229 with additional information.
Witnesses or others with information could also call the Rockland Fire Department at (781) 871-3890.
On the day of the blaze — a Wednesday — Rockland resident Tim Flood was away from his home on Hingham Street when he got the unexpected call that a fire had ripped through the aging wood of his barn, which was built during the 1800s.
Fire officials determined the fire was lit at around 4 p.m. that day.
Flood said he received a call from a reporter, alerting him to the situation a few hours later.
But Flood said he’d been planning to sell his home to a potential buyer the following morning.
“So obviously, that’s no longer happening,” Flood said.
Flood said he’s the only person living at the property and that no one was hurt in the fire.
Flood said he became even more frustrated by the situation when he learned that a joint investigation by the Rockland Fire Department and the State Fire Marshal’s office determined the fire was intentionally set, with no related arrests as of the Standard’s press time on Wednesday.
“So it all went downhill from there,” Flood said.
The fire tore though the barn’s ceilings and the walls, leaving only piles of charred wood. The exterior has since been boarded up and is covered in soot and embers.
Flood said it would be more difficult to sell his home now that there is a burned barn on the property, and he said having a barn that old was one of the attractions for potential buyers.
“A lot of people who were looking at the property, were looking at it because it had that barn,” he said.
Flood said he could not think of anyone who would benefit from setting the barn ablaze.
“Right now it’s speculation,” he said.
Flood said his insurance company has not yet given a final reimbursement figure, though he expects to get a 10 percent reimbursement rate for the barn, which would cover an approximate $36,000.
“That barely covers the tear down,” Flood said.
Rockland girl spots fire, mom calls 911
The Patriot Ledger
Sitting by her front window Wednesday afternoon, 8-year-old Mia Celestino looked up from her book and saw smoke coming from the barn across the street.
She told her mom, who called 911, and firefighters were able to prevent the 208-year-old building behind 425 Hingham St. from burning to the ground.
The fire, which started in the second floor of the two-and-a-half story wooden barn at about 4 p.m., caused heavy damage, said Fire Chief J. Michael Sammon. When firefighters arrived, they could see heavy smoke rising from the building.
It took about a half-hour to get the fire under control, he said.
No one was at home when the fire broke out and no one was injured, Sammon said.
Homeowner Timothy Flood did not learn of the fire in his barn, which is set back about 20 feet from his 258-year-old house, until late Wednesday evening.
The property is for sale at the asking price of $372,000, and Flood said he found a buyer for it on Wednesday.
“This will obviously impact that,” he said.
Sammon said the cause of the fire is unknown and the State Fire Marshal’s office is investigating.
Andrew Lightman may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.