EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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July 3, 2014

Investigators seek public's help in finding cause of Canal Street fire

LAWRENCE — State and local investigators are asking for the public’s help in finding out the cause of the 2-alarm fire that heavily damaged a brick warehouse building at 220 Canal St. late Wednesday night.

Investigators said yesterday the fire started on the exterior under an overhang. The cause of the fire is "human action," but whether the intent was to burn down the structure or a result of some other activity such as stealing building materials is unknown, according to Jennifer Mieth, public information officer for the state Department of Fire Services.

The fire is being jointly investigated by city fire and police officials and state police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal. Investigators ask anyone with information about the fire call the Arson Hotline at 1-800-682-9229. The number is toll-free and all calls are confidential.

The Arson Hotline is part of the Arson Watch Reward Program that provides rewards of up to $5,000 for information that helps to solve arson cases. It is sponsored by the property insurance companies of Massachusetts.

Capt. Frank Martin would not comment on whether the fire was suspicious. State police investigators were at the scene yesterday.

Firefighters arrived at 9:01 p.m. Wednesday and the building was already engulfed by flames. The fire was under control by 11 p.m.

Two firefighters were injured, according to interim fire Chief John Marsh. One was taken to Lawrence General Hospital for treatment of a knee injury while the other suffered heat exhaustion and recovered in a mobile rehabilitation unit, Marsh said.

Martin said both are recovering well.

"They are home resting," he said.

Marsh said the firefighters attacked the fire from outside with a defensive strategy.

"The building was vacant so there was no reason to put us in harm's way," he said.

It was a busy night for the firefighters. As soon as the Canal Street fire was under control, firefighters responded to an electrical fire on the first floor of Spector Textile Products, 10 Embankment St., where a motor ignited.

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