Welders caused Back Bay blaze that killed 2 firefighters

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April 4, 2014, 8:57 am
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(NECN) - Welders working on a nearby building caused the nine-alarm fire that claimed the lives of two firefighters last week, according to the Boston Fire Department.

The news was announced at a 10:30 a.m.  press conference at Boston Fire headquarters. Officials said the investigation is ongoing and will determine whether anyone should be held culpable for the deadly blaze.

"Based on the burn patterns and witness statements, we do not believe the fire was intentionally set," Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Ed Zabin said. "Rather, the evidence at this point suggests the fire started as a result of sparks from repair work."

He said the workers were installing an iron handrail at the rear of 296 Beacon St., the building next to 298 Beacon St. where the fire broke out. Fire officials said there was no fire detail for the job, and it does not appear that a permit was pulled.

Zabin said investigators are not in a position to answer questions at this point about how many workers were involved, who they were or whether charges will be brought. He did point out that Massachusetts does not have a negligent homicide law on the books except for one related to motor vehicle fatalities. But he said the DA's office "is taking no position on what the evidence will yield."

Lt. Edward Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy were killed in the March 26 fire. Funerals for both firefighters were held this week.

The owners of 296 Beacon St., the Oliver Realty Limited Partnership, issued a statement Friday saying they are "deeply saddened" by last week's tragic fire.

The company said it recently contracted with a third party to install safety railings at its property, but it believed that the railings would be prefabricated offsite. The company said it is cooperating fully with investigators, and will be launching its own review as well.

Tags: Back Bay, Boston Fire Department, Michael Kennedy, Back Bay fire, Edward Walsh
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