Suspicious fire destroys 32-unit Liberty apartment building

By David Skolnick


A suspicious fire destroyed a 32-unit abandoned apartment building — the fourth structure at the former complex burned to the ground since November 2011.

The fire at one of the two remaining buildings of what once was Barclay Square Apartments on Naylor-Lloyd Road near Belmont Avenue was reported at 1:36 a.m. Friday. When firefighters arrived, the building was fully engulfed, said Fire Chief Michael Durkin.

All the Barclay Square buildings are or were in terrible condition and filled with asbestos, he said. With the fire going strong when firefighters arrived, they let the building burn while making sure it didn’t hit power lines or a house across the street, the chief said.

“It’s in the middle of nowhere, so we kept the ground around it wet and let it go down,” Durkin said.

The fire was “definitely suspicious in nature,” he said. There were no injuries reported.

Three other 32-unit apartment complexes at Barclay Square have been destroyed by suspicious fires since November 2011, Durkin said.

The complex was closed about 10 years ago after extensive water damage.

Of the 160 units, only 32 apartments in one building remain — and that unit is in bad condition, Durkin said.

It wasn’t damaged in the fire.

But that building, like the one that burned, is missing doors, windows, pipes and balconies, and all its aluminum siding is stripped, the chief said.

“Every building was dilapidated,” he said. “We’ve been trying to get them torn down because there’s a lot of asbestos in them. We’re trying to get them abated” without success.

A witness reported seeing someone at the building a few hours before the fire, but was unable to provide a description, Durkin said.

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