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Firm accused in fatal Back Bay fire denies role, its existence

Malden owner blames Back Bay blaze on others

Two Boston firefighters died while battling a wind-whipped blaze that tore through a Back Bay apartment building.

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Two Boston firefighters died while battling a wind-whipped blaze that tore through a Back Bay apartment building.

The owner of a welding company being sued over a fire in Boston that killed two firefighters denied Monday in court papers that he was working next door at the time of the blaze and said the damages “were caused by others.”

A lawyer for Giuseppe Falcone made those arguments in a court filing in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston, where Falcone and his company, D & J Iron Works Inc., are being sued in the March 26 fire at 298 Beacon St.

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The blaze claimed the lives of Boston firefighter Michael Kennedy and fire Lieutenant Edward Walsh. Authorities have said the nine-alarm inferno was ignited by sparks from welders working on an iron handrail at the building next door, at 296 Beacon St.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Herbert S. Lerman, is executor of the estate that owns the 298 Beacon St. building, where the fire occurred. In addition to Falcone and D & J Iron Works, Lerman is suing Oliver Realty Inc., the company that manages the building at 296 Beacon St.

According to court records, D & J Iron Works failed to obtain a city permit for work on a railing at 296 Beacon St. Applying for a permit would have required the welders to have outside supervision to ensure the work was done safely.

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The lawsuit accuses the Malden welding company of failing to keep a fire extinguisher at the site or placing fire-resistant shields or guards over anything that could be combustible.

But in a response to the lawsuit Monday, Falcone’s lawyer, Richard C. Bardi, wrote that the “defendant was not performing welding work on March 26, 2014, at 296 Beacon Street” and that “D & J Iron Works, Inc. does not exist.”

The filing also stated that the plantiff was “comparitively negligent in causing the damages alleged,” and that the damages were “caused by others for whose conduct the defendant is not responsible.”

Attempts to reach Bardi and Falcone for further comment were unsuccessful Tuesday evening.

Falcone is listed in state records as the president of D & J Iron Works, which dissolved in 2010 and previously in 2005. It was not immediately clear why the company disbanded twice.

The lawsuit pending in Suffolk Superior Court alleges that Oliver Realty “hired D & J and Falcone to perform welding work on railings” in the exterior of 296 Beacon St.

However, Falcone’s lawyer denied in Monday’s filing that Oliver Realty hired his client.

As for the allegation that Falcone failed to obtain a permit to perform the welding work, his lawyer wrote that the “defendant lacks the requisite knowledge to either admit or deny the allegations as to Oliver Realty and D & J and calls upon the plaintiff to prove same.”

A lawyer for Oliver Realty could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Representatives of the Boston Fire Department and Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office declined to comment on Falcone’s filing, as did a lawyer for the plaintiff.

Conley’s spokesman, Jake Wark, declined to say whether criminal charges are forthcoming in the case, which prosecutors are investigating.

“It’s too early to discuss potential charges,” Wark said. “But detectives, firefighters, and prosecutors continue to meet regularly.”

Maria Cramer and John R. Ellement of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@
globe.com
. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.
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