Fire and law-enforcement officials said today that the fire at 298 Beacon St. that killed two firefighters was likely caused by welders installing an iron hand rail in the rear of the neighboring 296 Beacon.
"We do not believe the fire was intentionally set," Boston Fire Commissioner John Hasson said at a press conference today with Police Commissioner William Evans and Ed Zabin, who heads the Suffolk County District Attorney's homicide division.
Hasson said the initial investigation showed sparks from the welding ignited wood in the basement, which then burst into flames that grew from the basement to the roof due to high winds coming off the Charles - right through a door that had been left open.
Hasson and Evans said they could find no evidence the welders had a required city permit for the work. Once a permit is pulled, a fire chief should go to the scene to determine whether a BFD detail is required, he said, adding the workers did not have a detail.
He said permits are required for welding because of the fire dangers it poses and that permit applicants need to show the steps they will take to minimize problems, such as having a fire extinguisher on hand and shielding any flammable material from the welding torch.
The two declined further comment on the welders.
Zabin said his office is continuing to investigate the fire and its causes and declined to say whether charges could result. However, he noted that Massachusetts does not have a negligent-homicide law.