DRACUT -- A fire that destroyed a vacant single-family ranch house on Broadway Road near the Methuen line on Wednesday night was deliberately set, according to investigators from the state fire marshal's office, and Dracut fire and police departments.
State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan, Dracut Fire Chief David Brouillette, and Dracut Police Chief Kevin Richardson issued a joint press release on Friday seeking any possible witnesses or informants who could help solve the arson case at 1400 Broadway Road.
"We are asking for the public's help on this," said Brouillette. "If anyone saw anything around the time of the fire -- people or a vehicle -- or have any information that will help us, please call the Dracut police or fire departments or the statewide Arson Hotline."
The Dracut Police Department phone number is 978- 957-2123. The statewide Arson Hotline is 1-800-682-9229, and is answered 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week, with all calls kept confidential, the fire marshal said.
Firefighters called to 1400 Broadway Road for a report of a structure fire at 8:32 p.m. on Wednesday found the gray one-story house fully involved. Crews surrounded the house and fought the fire defensively since no one was inside. A second alarm was struck at 9 p.m., and brought available off-duty firefighters to the scene. Lowell and Pelham provided mutual aid. There were no reports of injuries.
The 2,300-square-foot, four-bedroom ranch home built in 1952 had an appraised at a value of $108,400, according to the Dracut Assessor's Office. The land the home is on was valued higher, at $118,100.
According to online information from the Dracut Assessor's Office, the home is owned by David and Nancy Cotnoir, of Methuen, who bought the property one year ago, on Nov. 30, 2011, for $265,000.
A phone call and message left on the Cotnoirs' home phone went unanswered.
Callers to the Arson Hotline become eligible for the Arson Watch Reward Program that provides rewards up to $5,000 for information that helps to solve the crime of arson. It is funded by the property and casualty insurance underwriting companies in Massachusetts.
Coan said the Dracut fire is not connected to a recent series of fires his department is investigating in the southern part of the state.
Staff reporter Robert Mills contributed to this story.