Suspicious fire at Soley building
Local authorities are investigating a suspicious fire that broke out late last Saturday night in the basement of 11 Exchange St., a retail and residential building in the Old Port owned by embattled landlord Joe Soley. Just days earlier, attorneys for Soley, the city, and residents of 10 Exchange St., a commercial and residential building Soley also owns, reached an agreement to settle a dispute over fire safety issues at that property.
According to 11 Exchange St. resident Matt Merrick, occupants were awoken by fire alarms around 2:30 a.m. last Sunday morning. Merrick said several plastic milk crates were found melted in the basement. No one was injured, but the basement was flooded, apparently due to sprinklers that extinguished the blaze, Merrick said.
City spokesperson Nicole Clegg confirmed that the fire started in the basement and said fire officials are investigating its cause. Soley could not be reached for comment.
About 25 people live in the building, most of them students and young adults who work on the peninsula. Merrick said homeless people often break into the basement seeking shelter. Although the fire alarms and sprinklers at 11 Exchange are apparently in good working order, Merrick added that he and the two roommates who share a three-bedroom unit there were disturbed to learn of the fire-safety problems at Soley’s other property, and are considering moving out as a result.
— Chris Busby