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$5,000 reward offered for information on 5-alarm Norton mill fire

Firefighters from several towns responded the fire at an abandoned textile mill in the Barrowsville section of Norton Wednesday.MARK STOCKWELL/Associated Press

Fire officials are offering up to $5,000 for information that helps investigators determine the cause of a 5-alarm fire that ripped through a vacant brick mill in Norton Wednesday evening.

Firefighters from several surrounding communities joined together to battle the blaze at 138 Barrows St., Norton fire officials said in a Facebook post around 6 p.m. on Wednesday. No injuries were reported.

A third alarm was struck around 5:45 p.m. as the flames rapidly grew, according to Jennifer Mieth, a spokeswoman for the state fire marshal’s office.

“Someone knows whether the fire was intentionally set or accidentally set by people who were not authorized to be inside,” Norton Fire Chief Shawn R. Simmons said in a joint statement with Norton Police Chief Brian M. Clark and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey.


Those who provide information which leads to the cause of the fire may receive up to $5,000, whether the fire was intentionally set or not, through the Arson Watch Reward Program, fire officials said.

Anyone with information who wishes to call confidentially can dial the Arson Hotline at 1-800-682-9229 or Norton police detectives at (508) 285-3327.

“All calls to the Arson Hotline are confidential and can be used to provide information on all fires, whether or not they were intentionally set,” Ostroskey said in the statement.

State Police and Norton detectives are jointly investigating the fire, officials said.

Ostroskey, along with Revere Fire Chief Christopher Bright, also announced Thursday afternoon that the cause of a brush fire in the backyard of a Revere home on Friday, which damaged two homes and three sheds, was caused by an improper disposal of smoking materials.

The fire at 19 Loring Road was reported at 2:12 p.m. and began as a brush fire on a windy day before spreading to tall marsh grass, a wooden fence, three sheds, and two houses, fire officials said. The home where the fire started suffered heat damage to the vinyl siding, and a home at 21 Loring Road had “significant damage” estimated around $160,000, the statement said.


Investigators determined the cause to be cigarettes that were tossed into dry grasses in the backyard, fire officials said. Investigators found “abundant evidence” of smoking materials, and someone was seen smoking in the area shortly before the fire began.

The Red Cross is assisting a family of four from 21 Loring Road who was displaced by the fire, the statement said.

“Brush fires burn like gasoline…fast and furious,” Bright said in a statement. “The Revere and mutual aid firefighters did a tremendous job of containing the spread of this fire with 50 mph wind gusts, and the two houses so close together.”

“The improper disposal of smoking materials is a leading cause of fires and fire deaths,” Ostroskey said in the statement. “It is fortunate this fire did not result in a death, but 40 percent of Massachusetts fire deaths this year have been due to smoking.”

Matt Berg can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @mattberg33.