A three-alarm fire that broke out at the closed JJ’s Pub on Liberty Street is believed to have been intentionally set, a state fire official told The Enterprise.
HANSON — A three-alarm blaze at a closed restaurant that broke out Thursday afternoon is believed to be suspicious, fire officials said.
The fire at the shuttered JJ’s Pub on Liberty Street, which closed in 2013, began about 3 p.m.
“It is suspicious largely as the building was unoccupied,” Jennifer Mieth, a spokeswoman for the state fire marshal, told The Enterprise on Friday morning.
The investigation is being conducted by the Hanson Fire Department, Hanson Police Department and Department of Fire Services.
Police also received a report from a neighbor that a vehicle was seen leaving the area of the pub around the time the fire began. Investigators are trying to determine if the vehicle may be involved.
When firefighters arrived at the scene, flames were shooting from the building. The blaze was quickly escalated to a two-alarm fire, summoning extra help from neighboring towns, and later to three alarms.
And it wasn’t the first fire on the property.
Mark Sargent, a convicted serial arsonist, is accused of setting a garage on the property on fire on Sept. 24, 2017. Prosecutors say Sargent, who was indicted on an arson charge related to the fire, confessed to setting the Hanson fire. He told police the home looked abandoned due to a large amount of garbage in a shed on the property. He took an open flame and set the garbage on fire, prosecutors said at the time of his arraignment.
At the time of Thursday’s fire, the pub was listed through Jack Conway Realty for sale in “as-is” condition, “without repairs or warranties.” The listing stated that the building “may be a tear down,” could possibly need a septic system and that the interior was in “very bad condition” with broken and missing pipes due to water damage from the roof.
“The value is in the land,” the listing stated.
Anyone with information on Thursday’s fire is asked to call the Arson Hotline, which can be done confidentially, at 1-800-682-9229. Through the Arson Watch Reward Program, a $5,000 reward is offered for information that leads investigators to identify an arson suspect.