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Posted on: November 23, 2021

Maple Center Shopping Plaza Fire Investigation Update

Shopping Plaza Fire

Maple Center Shopping Plaza Fire Investigation Update

Investigation still active, but no signs of foul play

LONGMEADOW, MA (Dec. 1, 2021) – The ongoing joint investigation into last week’s fire at the Maple Center shopping plaza has not developed any evidence of foul play, Longmeadow Fire Chief John Dearborn and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said today.

Investigators from the Longmeadow Fire and Police Departments, along with the Massachusetts State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit assigned to the State Fire Marshal's office, other specialized State Police units, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms have been working at the Maple Center shopping plaza fire since Nov. 23. Given the extent of the damage, the investigation is extremely complex and a final determination on the cause of the fire may take several weeks, officials said.  

“Because a final conclusion is likely some time away, we wanted to reassure the community that our painstaking investigation has not revealed any signs that the fire was suspicious or malicious in nature,” said Chief Dearborn.

The fire appears to have begun in a common attic space above two of the involved businesses, where it grew and spread before anyone became aware of it. Video evidence from multiple sources shows the building burning for several minutes before the first 911 call. At this point in the investigation, the fire appears to have started in this void space above the Bottle Shop and Armata’s Market, which allowed the undetected fire to spread quickly.

The building, due to its age, was not required to have a fire sprinkler system or a full alarm system. Both would have helped to reduce the damage this fire caused.

Based on the information from 911 calls, mutual aid was requested while Longmeadow Firefighters were traveling to the scene. Longmeadow Firefighters arrived on scene five minutes after being notified. When Longmeadow Fire arrived, the roof of the Bottle Shop had partially collapsed and the fire had traveled to Armata’s Market. At the height of the fire, over 7,000 gallons of water per minute was applied to the fire. Fire hydrants in Longmeadow and Enfield were used.

The Town of Longmeadow is currently working with the insurance companies to expedite the site cleanup and that effort is expected to begin very soon. The Town’s Building Commissioner and Health Agent will be involved in the cleanup process once the site is released at the conclusion of the onsite investigation.

A community relief fund is being set up to help the employees and the businesses. More information on that effort will be available soon.

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