Fire department releases photos from inspection prior to Bowdoin St. blaze

Courtesy: Prov. Fire Dept.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Firefighters called to a Bowdoin Street property found a house littered with space heaters and a nest of extension cords throughout the property, five days before it burned to the ground.

According to a report released by the Providence Fire Department on Tuesday, firefighters were dispatched to 110 Bowdoin St. on Jan. 1, and were greeted by tenant Roland Colpitts. Inside firefighters found only one electrical box supplying multiple apartments and other “major electrical issues.”

“Extension cords running from second floor to basement used to tie into electrical panel,” the report states. “Electrical panel in disarray with no covers. Electrical cords used for portable heaters.”

Firefighters met with the landlord, Dexter Jackson, who lived in the property.

“He complained that the tenants are drug addicts who don’t pay their rent, causing him to be unable to pay for the necessary work needed on the property,” according to the report.

Jackson told fire officials he had an electrician coming out to “work on the problem the next day.”

Five days later the home caught fire, and the blaze spread to three other buildings. In all, three properties were destroyed and will be torn down by the city.

The fire department also released photos taken from inside the property during the visit.

The remains of a missing person were pulled from the rubble on Monday, but the state medical examiner’s office has not officially identified the body. Family members – including a brother – have identified the victim as Lucy Feliciano.

The cause of the fire has not been officially determined.

A city building inspector visited the property the day after the fire department was there and recommended the home be condemned.

The report – dated Jan. 3 – said the inspector, Bill Monaco, found “no heat, no running water, owner is operating a boarding house,” and added that the inspector was issuing an “intent to condemn.”

TARGET 12: Building inspector recommended house be condemned »

“House was a mess,” Monaco wrote. “Occupants were running space heaters, numerous propane torches throughout dwelling, debris on every floor including basement, open electrical panel in basement.”

Eyewitness News reached Dexter Jackson by phone Monday night, and he said he believes the fire started at the house next door. Fire officials have said it started at Jackson’s property on 110 Bowdoin St.

Jackson said he “barely made it out alive” and was only able to escape because another tenant came back to try and find her dogs.

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook