Saturday, March 27, 2010

Expensive arson for oil company -- Ware, MA

An arson fire heavily damaged a 90-year-old family oil company’s building early yesterday morning, causing at least $300,000 damage to the structure and five trucks stored inside.

Fire Chief Thomas W. Coulombe said the blaze at L. Sidur & Sons Oil Co. on Homecrest Avenue was reported at 3:55 a.m. and the first firefighters to arrive found flames burning inside an office area and spreading to the truck bays. Mutual aid from neighboring Palmer was called and firefighters from Warren were placed on standby inside the Ware fire station.

About 22 firefighters battled the smoky blaze and worked to open the garage doors so the oil trucks stored inside could be removed. Headlights melted, windshields were damaged and the trucks were covered in a smoky haze, but the company’s owner hopes they might be salvaged.

“We were unable to open the door closest to the fire because the heat was causing it to separate,” Chief Coulombe said. Firefighters cut that door open and were able to raise the other doors so that as soon as the fire was under control, the owners were able to remove the trucks. The fire was brought under control in about 90 minutes, though crews were at the scene throughout much of the day trying to determine the cause.

An accelerant sniffing dog, Corrin, and handler Trooper Gerald Perwak, from the state fire marshal’s office, worked inside the building and state troopers removed several items, placing them in cans or bags. By day’s end, they had determined the fire had been set.

That news had the Sidur family upset.

“This didn’t have to happen,” Simone Sidur said of the business she and her husband will hand off to their two sons, who now run the business with them. When she arrived at the fire in the wee morning hours, she held her hands over her face and cried. By daylight she and her husband, Joseph Sidur, and their sons, were promising to rebuild.

“We’ve had a lot of support,” she said, although her husband was saddened that his century-old roll-top desk was a charred ruin.

“That must have been where they started it,” he said. “I’ve had that desk forever.”

The fire was not the only incident in the neighborhood overnight. One person reported a car had been broken into and a nearby greenhouse was damaged. Yellow police tape also hung near a shed at a home across the street from the oil company.

Ware police and fire department investigators and troopers from the state fire marshal’s office are now turning their focus to finding a suspect.

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