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Norwich officials 'fully engaged' in preventing downtown arson

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Norwich — In the wake of three intentionally set fires in the city within a week, police and fire officials have taken steps to secure about 30 vacant buildings downtown and have been coordinating a joint investigation, according to fire Chief Kenneth Scandariato.

First, Scandariato said, officials identified about 30 vacant buildings downtown — 10 of which are easily accessible — and contacted their owners to see if they’re willing to help secure the buildings.

If the owners decline, he said, the town will follow a legal process based on city ordinance to ensure the buildings are not public safety nuisances.

All three fires occurred in or near vacant buildings.

First, about 2:30 p.m. Oct. 19, someone set on fire a mattress that was leaning up against a building on East Main Street.

Then, on Sunday afternoon, an intentionally set fire flared up at the vacant mill at 132 Franklin St.

Finally, at 6:20 p.m. Monday, another incendiary fire popped up in the rear of the former YMCA building.

Firefighters were able to extinguish all three fires relatively quickly with minimal injury, Scandariato said.

Sgt. 1st Class Peter Camp said Tuesday that police aren’t ready to say all three fires are linked. However, he said Officers Scott Dupointe and Bob Smith, Norwich's trained fire investigators, are following “several leads.”

Scandariato said police and fire officials on Wednesday met with the city manager to develop a plan and communication process to dictate their moves in the coming days and weeks.

Officials additionally posted notices throughout the city reminding residents that anyone who provides information that leads to an arson conviction can claim a $2,500 reward, he said.

“We’re fully engaged in working to prevent this from happening again,” Scandariato said.

l.boyle@theday.com

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