Published March 25. 2013 11:00AM Updated March 25. 2013 11:26AM
Westerly — A fire that caused extensive damage to several apartments along with a popular sandwich shop and antiques store at 3 and 7 Commerce St. has been ruled accidental.
Michael Sweeney, chief of investigations at the state Fire Marshal’s Office, said Monday that Friday night’s fire may have been started by either a lit candle or an electrical issue.
He said the tenants of one of the apartments were forthright and said they left a candle on a plate, which wasn’t enclosed, but Sweeney also said there was an electrical issue in the apartment as well. When the lights would be turned on, the lights would dim low before turning bright. He also said when the fuses would be changed, they would be hot to the touch. He said the electrical issue was never fixed.
“Can I say for certain which one caused the fire,” said Sweeney. “No. The building was so damaged that we may never know.”
Eleven people from seven families were displaced as a result of the fire, which was called in around 7:40 p.m.
A building inspector said the second and third floors of the building were a total loss. Ten Sandwiches and Mary D’s Antiques & Collectibles occupied the first floor and were also damaged in the blaze. It remains to be seen whether the building will have to be torn down.