Highway arson: ‘Clearly intentional’ fires set along I-195

Nov 3, 2020

Anyone driving westbound on I-195 between New Bedford and Fall River on Tuesday afternoon may have seen an unusual sight: multiple brush fires all along the highway shoulder at various intervals.

State police helicopters flew overhead as fire engines from Dartmouth’s Fire District 3 — along with New Bedford, Westport, and even Fall River fire departments — worked to extinguish the myriad clusters of flames.

Most of the blazes appeared near the Faunce Corner Road and Reed Road exits, according to scanner chatter.

One Massachusetts state trooper said on condition of anonymity that the fires were “clearly intentional.”

Although Deputy Chief of Fire District 3 Theodore Borges said that he could not determine whether the fires were intentionally set, he did say that the circumstances were “suspicious.”

“They came all the way from New Bedford into Westport, all the way to Fall River,” Borges said of the fires. “And different spots — with multiple breaks in between. Honestly, we have no idea how this could have started other than something possibly suspicious.”

Firefighters worked to wet down the brush in wide swaths of burnt vegetation as traffic slowed, with small spots of flame popping up in different areas.

“Water supply is always challenging on the highway,” Borges noted. “We’ll be out here for a little while.”

Dartmouth Police released a statement noting that “a series of fires were lit on the side of Route 195” and requesting anyone with information regarding the identity of the person responsible to contact the Massachusetts State Police or to submit an anonymous tip to DPD.

A State Police spokesperson could not be reached for comment.