New Bedford fire chief warns residents after series of fires

 By: Alexandra Cowley 

A series of unexplained fires in New Bedford has the fire chief calling on the public for help. All of the fires were started at businesses. Most were in the middle of the night. The fire chief says whenever they can’t find a cause for a fire that starts that in the middle of the night, it’s a concern. He’s hoping to put an end to them before someone gets hurt. 

In the last ten days, 4 business owners in New Bedford have taken a hit. Some more than others, but all are still unexplained.

Chief Michael Gomes said, “If we had a single one of those it would have been an accident, two is a coincidence, three is a problem, and four is a pattern. So we are asking the public to be vigilant on this issue.”

The most recent fire cooked the side of the Roasted Pig Restaurant on Nash Street.

“I have no reason for somebody to do this to me,” said owner Fernando Godinho.

Godinho left work at 11:30 Thursday Night and his phone rang at 2:30 A.M. It was New Bedford police informing him his restaurant of ten years was on fire.

“It’s just sad, it’s just sad,” said Godinho. 

Godinho says he was lucky because of the cement blocks under the shingles at his restaurant, which stopped the fire from spreading. Still, he’s offering 5,000 dollars for any information leading to an arrest.

One week later, just a block down the road, there was an early morning fire at Jimmy Breualt’s roofing business. 

“Obviously you can see from that black line there may be some accelerant,” said Breualt. 

The flames destroyed insulation and two new air conditioning units. The damage cost Breualt over 40,000 in damages.

“It’s tough when you come in in the morning and see all the damage and someone got away with doing this. Now, we have to deal with our insurance companies on who’s going to pay for the bill,” said Breualt. 

The fire here was the first in a series of three that broke out that morning on July 11th. The next happened at F and B Rubberized, a tire recycling plant. That one tore through 3 trailers of tires costing the family owned business 30,000. The manager there caught the act on surveillance video, which is being investigated by the state fire marshal’s office. 

Just hours later, The Lebanese Kitchen restaurant on Purchase Street went up in flames. It tore through the family’s home and restaurant. There is still no cause for any of these fires. The Lebanese Kitchen restaurant has since moved into the building next door. 

Chief Gomes says, “We’re asking the public to be vigilant and if somebody sees something that’s out of the ordinary to let us know.”

Gomes suggests businesses be sure their surveillance cameras and smoke detectors are working.

(C) WLNE-TV 2014