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The Boston Globe

Metro

Two more blazes erupt in towns south of Boston

QUINCY — Two more fires struck south of Boston on Tuesday, including one that was deliberately set, in circumstances that were similar to a dozen other recent blazes in the ­region that authorities have labeled as suspicious or arson.

Each fire on Tuesday, in Quincy and Hanson, claimed a vacant building and began in the early morning hours, as was the case in many of the fires in eight other communities south of Boston dating back to September. In Quincy, authorities determined the fire that destroyed an empty two-story house that had been used as a commercial building was deliberately set.

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Despite the similarities, fire officials stopped short of definitively linking the Quincy fire to those other cases or to declare that a serial arson­ist was loose in the region.

“There is obviously great concern that this fire may be connected to the recent arson fires that have ­occurred in Southeastern Massachusetts, but at this time it is too early in the investigation to rule that in or out,” said Stephen D. Coan, the state fire marshal.

However, Coan said he is scheduling a summit this week with police and fire officials from a number of towns south of Boston to gather and share information about the fires.

The fires have claimed property across a wide swath of the area. Several have occurred within a few miles of each other, for example, in Middleborough and in Sandwich. The times have varied, but many erupted between 1 and 6 a.m.

Authorities determined the fire at 488 Quincy Ave. in Quincy had been started deliberately in the rear stairwell at about 1:30 a.m.

Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Authorities determined the fire at 488 Quincy Ave. in Quincy had been started deliberately in the rear stairwell at about 1:30 a.m.

Several firefighters have been injured battling the blazes, but there have been no fatalities or serious injuries to civilians because all the structures were vacant, abandoned, or otherwise unoccupied.

The buildings include a shuttered restaurant, a former motel, and an unfinished condominium.

The second fire Tuesday gutted the Cranberry Square commercial building on Main Street in Hanson. It started at 5:30 a.m. and was extinguished within hours. A team of investigators, including Coan and Hanson Fire Chief Jerome Thompson Jr., spent much of the afternoon walking through the charred debris with intense focus.

“As far as the investigation goes, I’m going to have to defer to the fire marshal and his ­office,’’ Thompson said. “They’ve been investigating the rash to see if there are any connections.”

“The series of fires we are looking at clearly involve vacant or unoccupied structures,’’ Coan said later in a telephone interview. “In so far as this one was vacant, it does, in fact, at least cause concern that it fits the profile.’’

However, his office has yet to determine a cause of the ­Hanson fire.

Mark Vess, a member of the town’s Historical Society, was at the scene and said the building has been abandoned for at least a decade.

“It’s sad to see a building like this go,’’ Vess said. “It was a dress shop, a hardware store, other things a long time ago.”

In Quincy, investigators ­determined that the fire was started in the rear stairwell of the building at about 1:30 a.m. It was put out by 5 a.m. The building at the corner of Quincy Avenue and E. Howard Street had been vacant for at least a year.

A fire destroyed a buildiing at 1000 Main St. in Hanson.

Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

A fire destroyed a buildiing at 1000 Main St. in Hanson.

“There was some difficulty getting to the attic,” said Paul Griffith, Quincy deputy fire chief.

Coan appealed to the public to contact investigators with any information they may have about any of the fires by calling the arson hotline, 800-682-9229. Coan said that the hotline is active 24 hours a day and that callers can leave confidential infor­mation.

Coan said agents of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms, and Explosives are Part of the investigation.

On Monday, a fire was reported inside an abandoned house at 266 Monponsett St. in Halifax about 3 a.m. About 5:30 a.m., another fire broke out at a garage at 103 Main St. in Plymp­ton. Authorities are inves­tigating whether those two fires, among others, were started by the same person or persons.

Fire chiefs in several communities told the Globe Monday they are not convinced the blazes in their communities are connected to those elsewhere.

Brian Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com.
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