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Investigators probe cause of fire at vacant Shaw's Motel

  • Investigators work Monday at the site of the former Shaw's Motel, 87 Bridge St. in Northampton, following a fire there Sunday evening.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Investigators work Monday at the site of the former Shaw's Motel, 87 Bridge St. in Northampton, following a fire there Sunday evening.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Investigators worked Monday at the site of the former Shaw's Motel, 87 Bridge St. in Northampton, following a fire there Sunday evening.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Investigators worked Monday at the site of the former Shaw's Motel, 87 Bridge St. in Northampton, following a fire there Sunday evening.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Investigators worked Monday at the site of the former Shaw's Motel, 87 Bridge St. in Northampton, following a fire there Sunday evening.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Investigators worked Monday at the site of the former Shaw's Motel, 87 Bridge St. in Northampton, following a fire there Sunday evening.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Investigators work Monday at the site of the former Shaw's Motel, 87 Bridge St. in Northampton, following a fire there Sunday evening.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Investigators worked Monday at the site of the former Shaw's Motel, 87 Bridge St. in Northampton, following a fire there Sunday evening.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Investigators worked Monday at the site of the former Shaw's Motel, 87 Bridge St. in Northampton, following a fire there Sunday evening.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

The city’s Historical Commission voted in November to delay a request to demolish the building for up to a year to allow time to determine if the building has enough significance to warrant preservation.

The motel was closed in the late 1990s. The building, which has been up for sale since 2010, was deemed unsafe to enter by Building Commissioner Louis Hasbrouck last year.

By telephone Monday, Hasbrouck said it is too early to determine if the building would need to be demolished or if it could be repaired.

Sarah LaValley, the city’s conservation, preservation and land use planner said via email Monday, “The building could be demolished if the building commissioner determines that the structure poses an immediate threat to public safety.”

Both the Northampton Fire Department and the state fire marshal’s office said the cause is still under investigation.

The fire caused about $25,000 in damage, according to the fire marshal’s office.

The building was not wired for electricity and had no working gas lines, according to Northampton Fire Capt. Thomas Clark.

About 23 firefighters responded to the fire, which took about 30 minutes to extinguish, according to firefighters. There were no injuries.

Sections around the building were cordoned off with yellow police tape Monday morning as police and fire officials worked around the motel’s lower floor, where one witness said he saw smoke and flames Sunday night.

Joel Nisson, who lives around the corner at 16 Pomeroy Terrace, said he was on his porch about 7 p.m. Sunday when a neighbor asked him if he smelled smoke.

Nisson said that neighbor called 911 while he walked down the street to get a closer look, and saw smoke billowing out of the building’s lower floor and chimney. He said he saw flames come out of the building when firefighters broke in.

Sunday’s fire was an uncomfortable reminder for many in the Ward 3 neighborhood of the series of arson fires that plagued the area from 2007 to 2009.

Nisson said his wife’s car was set ablaze the night of Dec. 27, 2009, in one of about a dozen fires set around the neighborhood that night, one of which killed Paul Yeskie Sr., 81, and his son, Paul Yeskie Jr., 39, in their Fair Street home.

“Our neighborhood is particularly sensitive to fire issues,” Nisson said.

Northampton resident Anthony Baye, 27, is scheduled to stand trial next month on multiple counts of arson, two count of murder and several other charges related to those fires. He has been held without bail since his arrest in early 2010.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@gazettenet.com.

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