Monday August 27, 2012

DALTON - Local, state and federal authorities are investigating a pair of suspicious garage fires that destroyed one home and damaged another over the weekend, according to Dalton fire officials.

Fire Chief Gerry Cahalan Jr. said the fires - discovered within minutes of each other late Saturday night - were a block apart.

" Both fires are of a suspicious nature and appear to be related," Cahalan said Sunday night. " Both apparently began outside at the rear of the garages."

There were no injuries reported at either fire scene, located off South Street near the Pittsfield city line.

The first fire was reported around 11:30 p.m. at 73 Greenridge Drive, where a garage fire began to spread to the home, whose lone occupant wasn't home at the time. The blaze gutted the garage and heavily the single- family home, which Cahalan said was a total loss.

The fire also damaged the siding of a neighboring home at 67 Greenridge Drive.

As Dalton firefighters were responding to Greenridge Drive, they saw a second fire at 36 Evelyn St., where a family of four escaped unharmed. Cahalan said that fire was confined to the garage, avoiding damage to the house.

What caused the fires and who might have deliberately set them remains under investigation by the Dalton Fire and Police departments, the State Fire Marshal's Office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Given the close proximity of the homes in the area, Cahalan says the fires could have inflicted more damage to the neighborhood.

"My guys made a great stop on both of them," he said.

Firefighters from Pittsfield, Hinsdale, Lanesborough and Windsor assisted Dalton in battling the blazes.

Anyone with information regarding the fires are urged to call Dalton police at 684-0300 or the Arson Awareness Tip Line at 1-800-682-9229.