Westport garage fire under investigation, considered suspicious

Photo: Julianne Lima/WPRI-TV

WESTPORT, Mass. (WPRI) – Officials are investigating what they believe to be a suspicious fire in a vacant Westport home, and are looking into whether it could be connected to at least two other recent fires in the area.

Deputy Fire Chief Allen Manley said flames broke out in the Forge Road home’s attached garage just after 2 a.m. Wednesday. The fire destroyed the garage and charred the adjacent side of the house.

“The whole garage was actually in flames,” said Felicia Mendonca, who lives next door and called 911. “I actually woke up to the smell of smoke and a huge, orangey-red light.”

Investigators said the fire was being investigated as suspicious because the home is under construction, unoccupied and not yet connected to electricity.

Manley said no one was injured fighting the fire. He said the fire started inside the garage but investigators have not yet determined the cause.

“This was the second in a series of fires that have happened locally in southeastern Massachusetts and Tiverton, Rhode Island, that are suspicious in nature,” Manley said. “This will be under investigation with the joint task force of Westport, Fall River, Tiverton, and the ATF.”

Another fire being investigated as possible arson occurred less than a week earlier at Artisan Antiques on Main Road in Tiverton. Tiverton Fire Chief Robert Lloyd declined to comment on how the fire started, but described the investigation as “very active.”

The antique shop’s owner, Nancy Walker, said the fire started in a back window and was extinguished quickly after a passing police officer spotted it and notified the fire department. She said none of her inventory was damaged.

Manley said investigators are looking into whether the two fires could be connected.

A third fire, which took place on August 15 on American Legion Highway, is also now considered suspicious, according to Manley. He said the fire also took place in the garage of a vacant home, similar to the circumstances of the Forge Road fire.

Up to a $5,000 reward is being offered for leads related to the suspicious fires. Anyone who has any information can call the police or fire departments in Westport and Tiverton or the State Fire Marshal.