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Quincy police launch arson investigation into weekend house fire that displaced 14 women

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QUINCY – Local police and the state fire marshal’s office have launched an arson investigation into the fire that destroyed a rooming house and displaced 14 residents last weekend.

Quincy firefighters responded to a report of a fire on Bigelow Street at 3 a.m. Sunday, July 31. Three people had to be rescued by first responders and another jumped from a first-floor window to escape the flames.

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Detectives are looking for any video surveillance in the area or anyone who saw anything suspicious, Quincy police Sgt. Karyn Barkas said Friday, including cellphone  footage or photos from the scene. Police hope to identify a man who was “seen acting suspiciously in the area.”

Police said the man is white, in his 30s, has a beard and is  about 6 feet tall. He is of medium build and was wearing round glasses, a dark T-shirt, dark shorts and a hat.

The office of State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey is investigating the cause of the fire.

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Anyone with information can contact the Quincy Police Department by emailing [email protected] or calling 617-745-5774. People can also call the Arson Watch Reward Program Hotline at 1-800-682-9229. The program is operated by the Massachusetts Property Insurance Underwriters Association and offers rewards of up to $5,000 for information that solves or detects arson crimes. All calls are confidential.

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A total of 14 women live in the rooming house at 100 Bigelow St., but the property manager said only 10 of them were there when the fire began overnight. The woman who jumped from the window hurt her back, and another woman suffered smoke inhalation, police said. Both were taken to a hospital and treated.

Heavy fire rose through the roof as firefighters battled the blaze. A firefighter used a chainsaw to open a section of the roof, and flames came roaring out, officials said.

A firefighter looks at the charred remains of a rooming house at 100 Bigelow St. in Quincy that was destroyed by a multi-alarm fire. Several tenants were rescued and another jumped out a window, Sunday, July 31, 2022.

Residents said they often hear a smoke alarm because they have a shared common space, but quickly realized this was different.

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“I opened my door, I saw (someone) run out the front, and then all of the smoke billowed into my room and then I realized it was actually a fire, so I just grabbed my phone and ran outside, no shoes, no nothing,” resident Amara Smith said.

Quincy Fire Chief Joseph Jackson said the building is likely a total loss. The Red Cross responded to help displaced tenants.

“This fire was proof that working smoke alarms save lives,” Jackson said in a statement. “An early-morning fire in a house full of people could have been a devastating tragedy. If not for the smoke alarms, these residents could have lost much more than their home. If you do one thing tonight, please check your smoke alarms and be sure they’re working properly.”

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Intense flames melted the front of a car and the vinyl siding on two garages in back of a rooming house at 100 Bigelow St. in Quincy that was destroyed by an early morning, multi-alarm fire, Sunday, July 31, 2022.

Intense flames melted the front of a car and the vinyl siding on two garages in back of a rooming house at 100 Bigelow St. in Quincy that was destroyed by an early morning, multi-alarm fire, Sunday, July 31, 2022.

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Information from WCVB, The Patriot Ledger’s media partner, was used in this report. Reach Mary Whitfill at [email protected] 

This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Quincy police ask for help in ongoing arson investigation

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