Metro

Massive Waltham blaze does not appear suspicious, fire chief says

The cause of a 10-alarm blaze in Waltham that destroyed several buildings in a luxury apartment complex under construction remained under investigation Monday, but the inferno does not appear to be suspicious.

“Nothing at this time points us in that direction,” Fire Chief Paul Ciccone said.

An estimate of the cost of the damages caused by the massive fire, which broke out at 4 a.m. Sunday between Elm and Cooper streets, was not yet available, he said.

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Ciccone said officials had not determined a point of origin for the fire, which caused five buildings to collapse. The state fire marshal is also investigating.

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Callahan Construction Managers is building the project for the developer, Lincoln Cooper Street LLC.

The owners plan to rebuild on the same site, said Lisa Nickerson, a spokeswoman for the two companies.

The owners’ insurance company would wait for the state to complete its investigation before reviewing the damage, Nickerson said in a statement.

On Monday morning, more than 24 hours after the fire started, a dozen firefighters remained at the site, dousing hot spots in the rubble and evaluating the scene. Heavy rain that fell throughout the day helped their efforts.

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A similar apartment building burned in a major fire in the Ashmont section of Dorchester on June 28.

In both cases, the buildings were constructed using wood frames, Ciccone said — a practice that is increasingly used to save money, despite growing concerns nationally about fires breaking out during the construction of such complexes.

Dozens of projects are under construction in Greater Boston using this method: four or five stories of wood-frame apartments built above a concrete ground floor. The practice has become increasingly popular with developers looking for ways to build relatively affordable housing to balance the high costs of land and labor.

It has also grown in popularity since a 2009 change in international building codes allowed for an extra floor to be built in wood-frame buildings, for a total of six.

Ciccone said Monday that the materials used to construct the apartment complex “contributed to the devastation,” but that there was no link between the Waltham and Dorchester fires.

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“It’s not like we need to worry about other buildings going up,” he said. “When you have stick construction, the risks are going to be greater. There are no concerns other than hopefully they won’t burn down.”

During Sunday’s fire, housing complexes at 48 Pine St. and 190 Moody St. were evacuated, but residents were able to return home later in the day.

Waltham Mayor Jeannette A. McCarthy said Monday that officials had set up a temporary shelter at a school for the affected residents, many of whom were elderly with medical issues.

“I want to thank everybody for all the help that they provided,” McCarthy said. “From the first responders right straight down to the citizens. They were all troopers.”

McCarthy said some surrounding businesses suffered water damage and other problems as a result of the fire. An auto body shop on Elm Street had some cars explode, she said.

Only two minor injuries, sustained by firefighters, were reported.

The mayor said that issues surrounding wood-frame construction projects need to be looked at.

“I believe that [two] issues, the density of the projects as well as the composition of the projects, whether at the local, state or both levels, need to be addressed,” she said.

McCarthy stressed that she has no authority over the special permits granted for such construction projects, which are within the purview of the City Council.

Tim Logan of the Globe staff and Globe correspondents Sara Salinas and Catie Edmondson contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.