Boston Nine-Alarm Fire Destroys Warehouse


Fire investigators confirmed Tuesday that fireworks were what sparked a massive blaze at an abandoned warehouse building in Boston during the weekend.

The fire destroyed the abandoned industrial complex in Roxbury on Norfolk Avenue just before 10:30 p.m. Saturday. The blaze was so large it reached nine alarms, prompting officials to call in 160 firefighters from 14 neighboring communities to battle the flames.

David LaRacuente said he saw something suspicious that night.

"Around 10:20 p.m., I went by to the other side of the building. I saw five or six white boys on top of the other roof throwing firecrackers," he said.

LaRacuente took Team 5 Investigates inside a building next to warehouse and up on the roof, where there were several packages of fireworks -- including large roman candles.

The Boston Fire Investigation Unit confirmed in a news release Tuesday that a group of men were on the roof of 31 Norfolk Ave. Saturday setting off fireworks that traveled to the roof of the warehouse nearby, igniting the building.

A man in his 20s told investigators he was lighting fireworks Saturday night, according to Team 5 Investigates Kelley Tuthill.

Fire officials said that, despite the illegal actions of the individuals setting off the fireworks (fireworks of any size and type are illegal in Massachusetts) the resulting fire was not set intentionally, according to the press release. Fire officials said that the individuals involved may still be cited for the incident.

"There was no reason why this building should have started on fire other than something happened. And fireworks certainly fills that bill," building owner Ro Maggio said. "Kids and fireworks -- it doesn't sound like an accident. Sounds like stupidity."

During their investigation, fire officials also looked into whether people were living on Maggio's property and whether LaRacuente may have been running an unlicensed body shop -- something he and his landlord deny.

LaRacuente said all he was doing was storing cars.

"What was going on here, I only found out about it two weeks ago, and I told them to get to get the cars out of here. He had cars just parked here," Maggio said.

Maggio Jr. said he used to run a frozen food storage business at the site but shut the operation down about three years ago because chunks of concrete from a six-story building next door kept falling on his building.

The blaze caused an estimated $750,000 in damage.

Saturday's blaze was the second 9-alarm fire in Boston this year. The last one was on April 7 at a Back Bay high rise condominium complex.

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