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Arson Being Investigated in Berry Street Fire

A fire broke out Monday night at a vacant city garage at 5 Berry St.

Peabody fire and police investigators believe a fire that broke out at an old city garage Monday night was due to arson.

Peabody Fire Inspector Chris Dowling confirmed on Thursday that evidence was found at the scene of the blaze, leading to the current investigation.

He said no suspects have been identified at this time and declined to elaborate on what type of evidence was found or what might have caused the fire. The investigation is still ongoing.

Dowling said the building at 5 Berry St. had been boarded up and was found breached in several places.

He did note the fire department is concerned at the structural integrity and safety of the building regardless of Monday's fire. The building at 5 Berry St. has been empty for several years and the roof is structurally damaged.

Dowling said the building should be demolished for the sake of public safety. He said it puts firefighters at risk, rushing into an unsafe structure, as well as juveniles, the homeless or anyone else who might be poking around inside a vacant building.

The fire itself on Monday was knocked down in short order by a crew at the scene, but firefighters did have to enter the building through a side door and were faced with thick, heavy smoke.

The fire was initially called in approximately at 8:42 p.m. by a contractor who parks his vehicle across the lot, according to Dowling. The man said he saw heavy flames coming from the rear of the building.

Dowling said no one was injured.

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