Feedback: Two Watertown Fires 'Suspicious'

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By Kris Rusho

Watertown police are investigating a possible connection between two fires that occured across the street from each other.

The latest, at the former Black Clawson plant on Pearl Street, took place Thursday night.

The Watertown fire department was called to the Black Clawson plant around 10:34 p.m. as flames and black smoke billowed from windows.

18 Watertown firefighters, along with 6 from Fort Drum, arrived at the scene and had to cut a locked chain fence in order to gain access to the section on fire.

According to Watertown Battalion Chief Matt Timerman, the location of the blaze was dangerous, with high ceilings that make it hard to determine the severity of heat, and maze-like areas with huge open voids.

Inside the building, there was a loaded fuel oil tanker truck and propane tanks on fork lifts.

The fire appears to have started near the vicinity of a boat that was stored in the facility.

"We've eliminated all accidental causes so now we just need to do further interviews and look around the area and work on any leads that the community might turn in," said fire investigator T.J. Kolb.

This isnt the first time the Black Clawson property has had a suspicious fire.

In 2005, arson played a role in a fire that destroyed the roof of a building.

"It came as a shock as the earlier one did but having gone through this in 2005, it really makes your knees wobble a bit," said building owner Ron Trottier.

On Tuesday, a small storage building acros the street from Black Clawson burned.

The property had no electricity and investigators say it also appears to be suspicious.

"We would be remiss if we didn't consider the fact that maybe these two fires are related due to their proximity and time frame," said Timerman.

The Watertown Police Department is asking anyone with information on either fire to contact the department at 782-2233.

Investigators will not confirm if they think arson played a role in either fire.

"The exact cause of the fire is undetermined but appears to have been caused by human involvement," said Detective Stephen Bachus in a statement.

Bachus said the Black Clawson fire "appears similiar in cause to the first fire."

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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