EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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February 12, 2014

No clues in Arden Casino fire

Developer: Historic building was 'throwback'

ANDOVER — Investigators are still looking for clues to the cause of Monday night’s 2-alarm Wood Estate fire.

The blaze proved to be a challenging one to knock down, with crews still putting out hot spots yesterday morning.

The fire destroyed a 147-year-old wagon shop originally built by William Poor in 1867. It later became the Arden Casino, a venue maintained by mills tycoon William Wood to entertain his Shawsheen Village employees.

While responding to Monday night’s fire was itself a challenge, sifting through the rubble to find a cause will likely become the greatest challenge yet, according to fire officials.

The investigation into what caused the fire at the Arden Casino is being handled by several agencies, including the Andover Police Department, State Police and the state’s Fire Marshall’s office, according to Andover Fire Chief Mike Mansfield.

Aiding them in the investigation is the state’s Department of Fire Services rehab unit, which has provided a mobile work site the size of a Winnebago for conducting interviews and allowing investigators to warm up after working the scene in frigid temperatures, Mansfield said.

While services are available to aid in the investigation, they pale in comparison to what lies ahead for investigators, according to Mansfield.

Part of the problem involves the fact that the investigation started after more than 12 hours of fighting the fire and extinguishing hot spots with water that was being poured in single-digit temperatures at times.

While water and ice decorating the scene will be one challenge, another key hurdle is that the building collapsed early on in the department’s response, Mansfield said.

The collapse helped conceal and protect hot spots, extending the length of and adding obstacles to the department’s response, according to Mansfield.

Now, the challenge is picking up the pieces.

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