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Arson suspected in Chelsea two-alarm fire

Chelsea fire officials said they suspect a fire at this house on Chester Avenue (center) is suspicious because of the speed flames traveled from the basement to the roof.

Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff

Chelsea fire officials said they suspect a fire at this house on Chester Avenue (center) is suspicious because of the speed flames traveled from the basement to the roof.

Authorities are investigating a possible arson fire Monday night in a vacant three-family house on Chester Avenue in Chelsea, Deputy Fire Chief ­Robert Houghton said.

The two-alarm blaze broke out in a building officials believe was vacant, Houghton said.

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“We’re assuming that it was vacant,” he said. “There were some neighbors who said no one had lived there for a while.”

Firefighters responded shortly after 10:30 p.m. Monday and saw heavy fire on the first floor of the house, said Houghton. Flames spread quickly.

“With a balloon-frame construction, it just goes right through the walls without stopping,” he said.

Houghton said the fire seems suspicious because the flames rapidly “went up the pipe chase from the cellar to the roof line.”

It took firefighters about 90 minutes to extinguish “all the little hot pockets of fire,” Houghton said.

Firefighters cleared the scene at 2 a.m. Tuesday, he said. There were no injuries to any firefighters, Houghton said.

Chelsea firefighters were ­assisted by the Boston, Everett, Revere, and Winthrop fire depart­ments.

The three-family home ­appears to be a total loss, he said.

State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan’s office is assisting Chelsea’s arson unit in the inves­tigation, officials said. Coan said his office routinely assists Chelsea and other fire departments in fire investigations, and the Chester Avenue fire is the latest example.

Investigators were back on the scene Tuesday searching for a cause and the point of origin.

Melissa Werthmann can be reached at melissa.werthmann
@globe.com
.
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