Police: Two homeless Boston men avert arson

Two homeless men from Boston are being saluted by police after they informed authorities that a man allegedly tried to hire them to burn down a cottage in West Harwich last week. Police said that the homeless men prevented a potential catastrophe.

Apparently the house had been “booby-trapped” with flammable liquids and the State Fire Marshall said that if the two homeless men would have accepted the offer to set it on fire they could have suffered from serious burn injuries. Additionally, firefighters could have been hurt trying to extinguish the flames, police said.

The 26-year-old man who is accused of trying to arrange the burning has been arrested and was released on $5,000 bail. He will be arraigned at Orleans District Court on charges of attempted arson of a dwelling house, conspiracy, and possession of a dangerous device, said a spokesman with the Harwich Police said.

The spokesman said that a lot of credit is due to the homeless men, who likely could have used the money that they were allegedly offered by the man. Reportedly, the man accused approached the two homeless men on at the corner of Kneeland Street and Atlantic Avenue in Boston on Thursday afternoon, offering them a sum of cash to burn down his West Harwich rental home.

The two men reportedly agreed, but then immediately went to police to report what had happened. Together with the Harwich police, Boston police, State Police, the fire marshal’s office, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the men arranged to go with the man to the home on Thursday night.

The homeless men were then allegedly instructed by the man accused to burn down the house on Friday night. Police said gasoline and rags were found at the house and the man was arrested on Saturday.

Thanks to these two honest men, a potentially tragic fire was averted. Hopefully the city will recognize the men for their courage to come forward.

Source: Boston Globe, “Homeless men thwarted arson, police say,” Sept. 26, 2011.