• Owner of 298 Beacon St. files suit against welding company, adjacent building owner

    BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- The owner of the Beacon Street building that was leveled by a fire last month has filed suit against a welding company and the owner of an adjacent building, alleging that the deadly blaze was sparked by unpermitted welding work.

    >> Read: Complaint filed against owner of 296 Beacon St., Malden welding company <<

    The executor of the estate which owns the damaged building is suing Oliver Realty Limited Partnership, which owns 296 Beacon Street, as well as D & J Iron Works of Malden and company owner Giuseppe Falcone.

    The fire that destroyed 298 Beacon St. and killed two Boston firefighters, Lt. Ed Walsh and firefighter Michael Kennedy, was started by welders installing hand rails along the back of the adjacent building, officials have said. Those welders did not have a permit as required, the officials said.

    The lawsuit, which was filed last week in Suffolk Superior Court, for the first time publicly identifies D & J Iron Works as the welding company that performed the work. FOX 25 has reported that investigators obtained search warrants to search the Malden company’s offices.

    The lawsuit says that Oliver Realty Limited Partnership hired D & J Iron Works and Falcone to perform welding work on railings along the back of 296 Beacon Street, and that the welding company did the work on March 26, “a very windy day.”

    “(N)either Oliver Realty LP nor D & J nor Falcone had a firefighter or ‘fire watcher’ present at the site, maintained a fire extinguisher at the site, or placed a fire resistant shield or guard to prevent ignition of combustible materials,” the lawsuit says.

    Oliver Realty Limited Partnership is controlled by George Demeter, a prominent Back Bay real estate investor and developer. A spokesperson for the partnership declined to comment on the suit.

    A spokesperson representing Oliver Realty Limited Partnership previously released a statement saying, "The company recently contracted with a third party to install safety railings at 296 Beacon Street. It was the company’s understanding that these railings would be prefabricated offsite."

    An attorney representing Giuseppe Falcone, the owner of D & J Iron Works, said that the company disbanded in 2010.

    Despite the statements by authorities, the attorney, Richard Bardi, said it was too soon to tell what caused the fire.
    "Until such time as cause and origin experts have completed their analysis and determined the exact cause of this tragedy, we should simply hope that everybody does not rush to judgement and form conclusions without the benefit of some very detailed forensic analysis that is taking place,” Bardi told FOX Undercover.

    Also filed was an affidavit from the property manager of 298 Beacon St., Franklin Knotts, who said he saw two welders drive off after he arrived.
    Knotts said he arrived at the property about 10 minutes after being told there was a fire in the building. he said he saw two workers and a truck full of welding equipment, and one of them told him they were doing welding work next door at 296 Beacon St.
    Knotts's affidavit says he didn't see any fire details or any protective shield along the wooden shed behind 298 Beacon St., which is the location where fire officials said the blaze started.
    "The men who were behind the 296 Beacon Street Property entered their truck and immediately drove off," Knotts's affidavit says.

    >>Read: Affidavit in suit against owner of 296 Beacon St., Malden welding company<<

    Surveillance video obtained by FOX Undercover from the day and time of the fire shows what appears to be a welding truck pulling into a parking spot on Back Street, the narrow alley running behind the fire site, and sitting for approximately five minutes before pulling away. A short time later, a firefighter is seen hustling in the direction of 298 Beacon St.

    Had the welding company pulled a permit for the handrail work, a district fire chief in Boston would have determined whether a fire detail was necessary.

    A spokesman for the Boston Fire Department declined to comment on the suit.  Authorities have said they don't believe the fire was intentionally set. An investigation into the fire and whether criminal charges can be levied is still ongoing.

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