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BREAKING NEWS Arsonist strikes at Charlton health center

July 16, 2010


CHARLTON — A fire at the Charlton Family Practice Center early this morning has been an ruled an arson.

"I can confirm that that fire was intentionally set," said state Fire Marshal Office Spokesman Jennifer Mieth.

At this point, investigators have no reason to believe the Charlton blaze is connected to a recent string of fires in Holland and Brimfield, Mieth said.

The two in Brimfield have previously been determined to have been purposely set.

Mieth said investigators don't know who set the Charlton fire, but quickly determined it was arson "by systematically ruling out all possible causes."

She could not comment on how the fire was started, but Charlton Police Sgt. Daniel Dowd said someone had broken into the building's rear door.

The Charlton Fire Department responded to the medical facility at 6:47 a.m. and found an employee who had just arrived for the day and had discovered the blaze, according to Assistant Fire Chief Michael Mahan. The building had not yet opened and no one was injured, he said. The fire was under control by 7:16 am. And most of the damage was from heat and smoke, he said.

"It was a quick knockdown," Mahan said. "It is not a loss."

Southbridge Fire Department assisted.

Patients should call (508) 248-4801 to make arrangements for care, according to a Nurse Sally Terrill of the practice. As of Friday, anybody who already had an appointment was being directed to the Harrington Memorial Hospital building on Route 131 in Sturbridge.

The fire marshal's office is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information on the fire, Mieth said. Anybody with information should call 1-800-682-9229.

The fire marshal's office is still investigating the Holland and Brimfield fires. A Tuesday, July 13 fire on Valley Road in Holland has raised suspicions of arson, but the state has not made a final determination yet. Two recent fires in Brimfield have been ruled arson, according to the Fire Marshal's office.

Ryan Grannan-Doll can be reached by phone at (508) 909-4050, or by e-mail at rgrand@stonebridgepress.com.

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