Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone called on the public to help with an investigation into four arsons that have struck Somerville this summer.
The mayor said, "We need your help," and he announced the city would pay a $20,000 reward to anyone who provides information that leads to any individuals who have committed the arsons. The state is also offering a $5,000 reward, making a total reward $25,000 for information about the arsons.
The mayor announced a tip line where people can call with information: (617) 629-1847.
State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said, "The key to solving this crime is information from the community."
Somerville Fire Chief Kevin Kelleher offered advice to residents about protecting their homes from arson.
Unlocked Basement Doors Led to Some Arsons
Somerville has seen 14 serious fires since the end of June.
In addition to the four summer fires that are considered arson, another five remain under investigation, the mayor said.
The mayor would not identify the other three arson cases because it could hurt the ongoing investigation, he said.
Curtatone did say that in some of the arson cases, "The person or persons [who committed the arson] gained access through unlocked basements." In other instances, the fires were started on the exterior of the buildings.
The city is vigilant in its investigation, and "the public must also remain vigilant," the mayor said.
Somerville Police Chief Thomas Pasquarello said, "The morning has been the primary time when these fires have started."
He said, "It has been a relentless investigation" into the arsons.
In the wake of a Friday morning arson
Curtatone, Coan, Kelleher and Paquarello spoke at a press conference Friday afternoon about the arsons.
They called the press conference in the wake of a small Friday morning fire that was quickly determined to be arson, Kelleher said.
That fire, on Laurel Terrace in Spring Hill, started at about 6:40 a.m. It was quickly extinguished, and there were no injuries or displacements.
However, nearly 125 people were displaced from their homes by other fires in Somerville over the summer—not all of them caused by arson.
Curtatone said the FBI, ATF, state fire marshal's office and the Cambridge police and fire departments are assisting the Somerville police and fire departments in the investigation.
He said the fact Cambridge authorities are assisting does not indicate there's a connection with Cambridge.
Coan, the state fire marshal, said, "Many times it's that missing small piece of the puzzle that, when it's put in there, is the deciding factor that allows persons to be brought to justice for the crime of arson."