The Arson Watch Reward Program, sponsored by the Massachusetts Property Insurance Underwriting Association (MPIUA), is offering up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for two arson fires in the Cape Cod National Seashore in late December.
Two unoccupied residential structures, the Brennan House and the Porter Cottage, were destroyed.
Seashore rangers and Wellfleet Fire Department firefighters responded to a still-smoldering scene on Dec. 23 and found that the foundation and chimney were all that remained of the Brennan House, at 59 Newcomb Hollow Road.
As firefighters extinguished a small brush fire, apparently caused by the building blaze, rangers discovered that the nearby Porter Cottage was also burned to the ground. The properties had been slated for demolition.
There were no injuries reported.
An inter-agency criminal investigation is being conducted by the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch and the Massachusetts State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit.
“All Seashore assets, whether they be physical, natural or cultural, are our responsibility. The NPS is charged with resource protection, and we, in partnership with the local community, take that mandate seriously. The Seashore is alarmed by this deliberate destruction of NPS resources, and we strongly encourage anyone with information about this criminal act to reach out to investigators,” said Acting Superintendent Shawn P. Mulligan.
It isn’t the first time arsonists have targeted the Seashore.
“In 2004 a park house in Wellfleet was lit on fire by arsonists,” said Chief Ranger Leslie Reynolds, who added, “The two arsonist were caught and charged by the state and by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).” Both men were sentenced to seven-year jail terms, according to a 2005 statement by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The Seashore has had wild-land fire arson cases within the last 10 years as well, added Reynolds; no one has been charged in those cases.
A rash of unsolved arson fires in Provincetown in 2007 did not involve any Seashore properties, said the ranger.
Anyone with information about the Dec. 23 incidents is asked to call the statewide Arson Hotline at 800-682-9229. The Arson Hotline is part of the Arson Watch Reward Program.
Information also can be directed to the NPS at 888-653-0009, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or online at nps.gov/ISB, click Submit a Tip.