PAWTUCKET — A vacant house at 171 North Bend Street has been the scene of two suspicious fires in the last six months, and Friday's blaze brought firefighters back a second time in the pre-dawn hours.
Firefighters first responded to a report of a fire in the two-story, woodframe house at around 4 p.m. According to the Pawtucket Police log, three juvenile males, two black and one white, and all approximately 15-years-old, were seen running from the scene.
Fire Chief William Sisson said the blaze proved stubborn due to heavy winds and the fact that an addition had been added to the house so there was “roof on top of roof.” He also said the interior had been compromised by a previous fire about six months ago that had left holes in the floors and other damaged areas that firefighters had to work around.
While the fire had been thought to be extinguished, Sisson said that smoldering embers, likely fed by the windy conditions, apparently reignited a second blaze at around 3:30 a.m. A police officer stationed near the house noticed smoke and flames and notified the Fire Department. Firefighters returned a second time and stayed until about 5 a.m.
Sisson said the house has been vacant and boarded up for awhile, and was unoccupied at the time of the fire six months ago. He said there are no active utilities in the building, so the cause is considered suspicious.
“We're told by neighbors that it is somewhat of a hangout,” Sisson said. He added that the Pawtucket Fire Department's Fire Prevention Bureau, as well as the Pawtucket Police and state Fire Marshal's Office are all involved in the investigation.
Sisson said the cause of the fire that occurred six months ago was determined to have been arson and was the subject of an ongoing investigation. However, no suspects had been identified.
Sisson said no injuries were reported in the last two fires, but the house sustained heavy damage.
According to the city of Pawtucket's Tax Assessor database, the property is currently owned by Julia K. Bass and D. Cymbeline. It was first purchased by Bass in 2005 for $225,000 and was last valued at $135,600 in the December 2011 assessment.