2006-11-02 / Front Page

Suspicious fire destroys house on Mercy Weeden Court

By Donna K. Drago

A house on Mercy Weeden Court was destroyed in an early morning fire Monday, but because the house was unoccupied, no one was injured.

The fire is being investigated by the Jamestown Fire Department, the Rhode Island State Fire Marshal's office, and the Jamestown Police Department.

Fire Chief Jim Bryer said the blaze was "suspicious," but could not comment further pending the results of the investigation.

Police Chief Thomas Tighe is working with the fire department and the state fire marshal on the investigation.

Tighe said the police investigated a large party at the same house on Friday night that continued into the early morning hours of Saturday. When the police approached the house, many partygoers ran away, which made it difficult to determine exactly how many revelers were involved, the chief police said

Two young men in a car at the scene of the party were charged with disorderly conduct and having alcoholic beverages in the back seat, Tighe said, adding that the police are trying to determine if any of the partygoers were related or acquainted with the owners of the house.

The police are investigating whether partygoers had anything to do with setting the fire, the chief said. Another call to police from owners of the same house came in on Saturday, when a glass front door was damaged and the house was entered after it had apparently been cleared by police the night before.

Chief Tighe said Tuesday morning that an investigator at the state fire marshal's office said the fire was set. "It was arson," he said. But Michael DiMascolo, the state chief deputy fire marshal, would not confirm that finding. "It's still under investigation," he said.

The state fire marshal called in the accelerant-sniffing dog,

in the accelerant-sniffing dog, "Sparky," owned by the Providence Fire Department, DiMascolo said. He added that several samples of materials taken from the house were sent to the state crime lab for analysis. It will take about a week to get any conclusive answers, DiMascolo said.

Fire Chief Bryer said it took his department about an hour to get the fire under control. He noted that because there have been few fires in recent months, one just two weeks ago, "My guys are getting pretty good at putting them out with all the practice." No other departments were called in to help battle the blaze, Bryer said.

The damage was severe enough that "It's basically a tear down," Bryer said, noting that the town building inspector has condemned the property.

The house is a one-and-onehalf story cottage listed as being for sale, Bryer said.

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