Officials believe someone set fire to a laundry room in the management office of a subsidized senior housing complex in Ipswich on Friday evening, State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said.
“It is not an accidental fire,” said Coan, whose office is investigating the fire.
The one-story brick building with a wood-frame truss roof serves as the management office for Agawam Village, which is managed by the Ipswich Housing Authority, Ipswich Fire Lieutenant Andy Theriault said.
The building does not house any residents and was empty when the fire began — save for, possibly, whoever started the fire, Coan said.
Ipswich firefighters responded to the fire shortly after 8 p.m., Theriault said, and stayed for just under three hours.
An initial report showed firefighters followed the appropriate procedures, knocking down the blaze, looking for smoldering remains, and checking for hot spots with a thermal imaging camera, Coan said.
But embers reignited in the ventilation system, Coan said, setting fire to the roof.
Ipswich firefighters returned to the building shortly before 2:30 a.m., Theriault said.
“What it appears is that the embers embedded themselves from the first fire in a hidden void, and could not be found through observation or use of a thermal imaging camera,” Coan said.
The firefighters “did their due diligence” and did not appear to have been negligent, he said.
No injuries were reported in either fire.
The last firefighters left the scene at 7:30 a.m., Theriault said.
Carolann Collum, who said she has lived in Agawam Village for seven years, said she saw the scorched building out her window when she woke up Saturday.
“I looked out my window, and I could see they were working on boarding it up already, early in the morning,” she said.