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Update: Fire Departments Respond to Blaze on East Center Street

Firefighters from Manchester and East Hartford extinguished a fire at 178 East Center St. early this morning.

Update 5 p.m:

The fire this morning on East Central Street may have been arson, according to fire officials,

The Task Force investigating the early morning blaze is reporting that the origin and cause of the fire was incendiary in nature. Police have opened a criminal investigation of the fire which they are calling a possible arson.

Local and state officials are asking anyone with information about the fire to call the Connecticut Arson Hotline at 1-800-84ARSON (800) 842-7766). A $2,500 reward is being offered for information leading to arrest, conviction or prevention of an arson fire.

Individuals with information may also call the Manchester Police Detectives Kerri Rossa or Wayne Mora (860) 645-5510

Original story:

Responding to a call at 4:42 a.m. Wednesday morning, over two dozen personnel from the Manchester Fire Department, the East Hartford Fire Department, and the Eigth District Department assisted in extinguishing a fire at a professional office located at 178 East Center St.

The initial call described a "structural fire" at the building, which was once a residential structure but had been converted to office space. The building housed the Law Offices of William Broneill Sr. and Jr. and the Certified Financial Planning office of Sandra Baranowski.

The firefighters were able to get the blaze under control by shortly after 5 a.m. and the blaze was extiguished entirely by 6:30 a.m. Officials reported the fire could be seen by fire officials from the headquarters, a quarter mile from the site.

When the first fire unit arrived, the fire raged on the first floor with the blaze vented by three first story windows and the door. The fire intensified as the windows failed and fresh air entered the building adding fuel. The front porch of the structure, extending the length of the building was also involved in the fire.

The initial entry consisted of a Search and Rescue Team as well as a Suppression team. It was quickly determined that the building was unoccupied.

The fire extended through the walls into the attic area, and also damaged the roof of the structure before it could be fully extinguished.

Fire personnel reported extensive fire damage to the first floor offices, the landing and stairway to the second floor, and to the attic and roof. Smoke and heat damaged was reported throughout the structure.

No fire personnel or civilians were harmed by the blaze.

The Local Fire Marshall is investigating the cause and origin of the fire and an all day investigation is anticipated.

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