Fire officials find incendiary liquid in abandoned Manchester house after fire
MANCHESTER — Manchester fire officials said incendiary material likely played a role in a fire early Sunday morning that damaged one of two abandoned houses that have long been an eyesore in a middle class neighborhood in east Manchester.
The fire started in the living room of 436 Mammoth Road, an abandoned 2 1/2 story house between Hanover Street and Tarrytown Road. Neighbors said it has been vacant for years.
“I think the city should take it and turn it into a park. Now it’s a problem,” said Peter Larkham, who lives nearby. “I’m going to call City Hall (Monday) and ask: Now what?”
The Fire Department said it was notified at 12:42 a.m. about the fire. District Fire Chief Poulin said the fire started in the first floor living room area but had climbed to the second floor by the time firefighters arrived.
With the help of the department’s fire prevention dog, Cy, investigators located several areas in the kitchen and living room with traces of liquid incendiary material, he said.
The first floor of the building had been boarded up before the fire. But on Sunday, just about every doorway and window remained wide open. One padlock remained intact on a side entrance, but the particle board it secured was ripped off the hinge.
A large hole was cut in an exterior wall. Plaster and other wall material lay on the ground in front of it.
Weeds grow throughout the property, something neighbors say keep it hidden.
A property behind the Mammoth Road house is also abandoned and has a failing roof, with weeds growing in the yard.
“This time of year, it’s easy to forget they’re there,” said Sarah Duval, who lives on Tarrytown Road within sight of the property.
The two properties were key to efforts by CVS to convert the doctor’s office property at the corner to a pharmacy. Developers promised that the two abandoned structures would be razed as part of the development, but neighborhood opposition led the city to reject the CVS proposal.
The abandoned Mammoth Road house is owned by ASC Realty LLC, which also owns the doctor’s office property, according to online city tax records.
Last week, Larkham said, a representative from ASC approached him and said plans were being drawn up for a new project.
Larkham said he has lived on his property for 18 years and remembers someone trying to fix up 436 Mammoth Road when he first moved in. It wouldn’t be worth the effort, he said. Plumbing, electrical wires, the furnace and just about anything of value has been stripped from the house, he said.
“It’s just a wood shell is all it is,” he said.
Poulin said he’s driven by the structure countless times, and believes it is only a matter of time before it catches fire and burns down.
He said it will be up to the city’s Building Department to determine what happens to the building. ASC is current on its taxes for the house.
The house behind it — 417 Tarrytown Road — is owned by Margaret-Mary Luckers, according to city tax records. The last tax payment on it was made in 2014, and it was only a fraction of the total bill.