Important Fire Prevention Information

Category: Public Safety

September 6, 2013

The city of Somerville is currently investigating an outbreak of recent fires, many of which have been set deliberately. Tufts University Police and Somerville Public Safety officials are seeking help from the community to assist in this investigation. While none of the suspicious fires have occurred close to campus, we are urging all area residents to immediately review and follow the arson prevention and fire safety tips below. These include removing upholstered furniture from porches and highly flammable items that may be near your home or apartment. 

Remain alert and report suspicious behavior or persons to the Police Department immediately by calling 9-1-1 or Tufts Police at 617-627-6911

Report any smoke or fires to the Fire Department immediately by calling 9-1-1. Don’t assume someone else will call it in

Contact the Somerville Police with any tips regarding any of the fires under investigation. No tip is too small - Remove upholstered furniture from porches

Remove all highly flammable items from outdoor areas close to your home, like:   

  • Piles of leaves or bags of yard waste   
  • Stacks of papers or recycling bins with paper/boxes    
  • Flammable liquids such as lighter fluid, gas, paint thinner and other volatile liquids    Candles, including mosquito candles  
  • Charcoal or grills, with charcoal or gas cans

Keep your home secure:     

  • Lock all doors and windows including basement doors and windows. (At some of the arsons and suspicious fires, access may have been gained through the basement. At others, the fire was set outside, but in close proximity to the home.)   
  • Lock your garage door (or remove flammable items from garage if it can’t be locked) 
Keep lighting on at night:    
  • Leave both your front and back porch lights on overnight   
  • Do not store trash or recycling under your porch   
  • Check batteries in smoke alarms and ensure they are operating   
  • Have an escape plan and discuss it with your housemates or family: Plan two routes of escape from any room. Check the door handle of closed doors before opening. If it’s hot, use your alternate exit if possible   

In the event of fire, exit immediately. Do not stop to collect any belongings

At a press conference today, the City of Somerville and state officials, including Mayor Joseph Curtatone and State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan, provided an update on their investigation. Since June 27, 2013, 13 house fires have taken place, the most recent of which occurred on Friday, September 6, 2013 on Laurel Terrace and was immediately determined to be arson. Four other fires have been determined to be arson, while five other fires have been determined to be suspicious.  Four have been ruled accidental.

Two of the thirteen fires occurred close to the Medford/Somerville campus but neither of those fires is considered suspicious.  The first, on College Avenue, was determined to be accidental.  The second, which occurred on Bromfield Road on the morning of August 28, remains under investigation but is believed to likely have been accidental.

Please remain alert to your surroundings and report any suspicious behavior or information to the police.  Sometimes a piece of information that seems unimportant that can make all the difference in either preventing arson or solving it afterward. For additional fire prevention and safety information please visit the Tufts University Fire Marshall's website 

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