An excavating machine at a Riverside construction site was destroyed late Wednesday in an explosion and fire that Greenwich police and fire investigators have ruled as arson.
Given the fact that flames were shooting 30 feet into the air from the machine that was engulfed in fire when firefighters arrived at 86 Lockwood Ave. about 11:15 p.m., Jan. 2, and that a five-gallon gas can and a pair of gloves were found within two blocks of the scene, the fire was deliberately set, Greenwich Fire Marshal James McDonald said Thursday.
The Wednesday night explosion and fire that rocked the Riverside neighborhood is the third arson at a construction site in the neighborhood since August, according to McDonald said.
Investigators are working to determine whether this arson is related to two arsons at a Winthrop Drive home in August 2012. "The first thing I thought driving to the scene is whether they are related. It is just around the corner" from Winthrop Drive, McDonald said.
According to Greenwich Police spokesman Lt. Kraig Gray, several callers contacted the 911 dispatch center about 11 p.m., Jan. 2 to report the sound of an explosion and a fire in the Riverside section of town.
McDonald said, "Neighbors reported hearing a loud boom. I talked to people up to a quarter-mile away who actually heard it."
McDonald added, "Neighbors reported seeing people leaving the scene. Our feeling is that someone poured gasoline into and onto the engine compartment and ignited it."
McDonald would not identify the owner of the machinery that moves on tracks rather than wheels, or the construction contractor. According to Gray, "That vehicle had estimated value of $150,000 and is a total loss."
McDonald said there isn't an obvious motive for the machinery fire—that there have not been any conflicts or issues reported by the excavator or the contractor. He also said work at the construction site appears to be in the beginning stages as only the foundation has been excavated.
No one was injured. Firefighters remained on the scene until nearly 1:30 a.m.
the exterior of a home under construction was set ablaze about 1:30 a.m. Aug. 22 and at about the same time on Aug. 23. Those incidents remain under investigation by Greenwich Police, McDonald said.
Gray said police are investigating whether the three fires are related because "of similar circumstances...they were construction sites." He would not comment on the evidence recovered at any of the fire scenes.
Gray said anyone with information on any of the fires should call the police tip lines: 203-622-8003 or 1-800-372-1176, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.