The Week Ending February 16, 2019
Thank you all for visiting this site. Several of you have made nice comments on my site. I have touched base with all of you. You all will be in my contacts list to keep you updated as to the timeframe for the book release. We have made some small changes within the site as it is a work in progress.
Below are a couple of remembrances of the 1981-1984 time period that coincides with this book. These have been sent from firefighters and buffs after an email from Nat Whittemore requesting such information. Others have been forwarded to me and will be printed in the coming weeks. I appreciate all of your correspondence. They all help to make associations to the story that much more personal. Please keep them coming.
At the moment, a prominent literary agent has my manuscript for review. Hopefully, in then coming weeks, he can give me some insight for getting this project published.
Get back to you all soon,
Hi Nat, My memory of the Sparks Club Fire, I remember waking up that morning and hearing about the fire. My sadness turned to anger wondering if it was intentionally set, I remember driving down the Mass Pike from my house in Allston wondering what I would see. I was a block or so away from the Club when I could see the top floor windows burned out from the ice crusted building, I parked my car and got out and the first people I saw were Jim Teed and Eddie Fowler (RIP). The look in their eyes on this frigid morning said it all. We lost the club is all that was said.---John Rafferty
My name is Jim Gemelli. I remember the Boston Arson Group well. I was just starting my career as a full time firefighter with the Town of Wayland in 1982. Prior to that, I had been a call firefighter for the Town of Lincoln since the fall of 1980.
I was a Recruit at the Massachusetts Fire Academy in the fall of 1982. This was the "old " academy that had been re-purposed from an old State Forestry site. I was the in the last Recruit class to graduate from this facility before 2 fires destroyed the 2 main training buildings. I was present for the "smokehouse" fire on October 22, 1982 that occurred a week before our graduation and then again for the fire of the main Academy building on November 6 just a week after my Academy class graduated.
I took a few photos of the Smokehouse fire that I may be able to scan, but I doubt I'll be able to find my negatives. As for the fire in the main building, I can tell you that when I arrived with my father, who was also a call firefighter in Wayland and Lincoln, there was heavy fire showing from the B side garage doors. There were 3-4 call firefighters from Stow manning one engine. Having just spent the last 8 weeks there, I led my father into the building from the D side and we drove two of the used engines out of the building. We then retrieved all of the new 4.5 Scott air packs from the crib room. These were the next gen of breathing apparatus that were just coming out. After this we stood back and watched the fire with the crowd as by then the fire was taking over the building. I found out that a few weeks later, someone had been showing photos of my father and I to Sudbury firefighters who were at the fire. They were looking for the guys who seemed to be very helpful during the fire. As I later learned, they were looking for "vanity arsonists". Whoever was asking the questions about us must have been satisfied because that's all I ever heard of this. I spent the 2 days following the fire working for the Academy transferring any salvageable equipment to a former school in Sudbury that served as the offices of the Academy. That building now houses the MSP Crime Lab.
I worked at a number of fires in Lincoln and sparked many others in the area of Maynard, Concord, and Acton during the period that the Arson Group was active. I know there was suspicion that some may have been their work, but nothing came of it. After they were caught, I wondered if a large barn fire at the Massachusetts Audubon Society in Lincoln had been set. The cause was attributed to a heat lamp used to warm a pregnant cow, but since the fire was on Rt. 117 on the way back to Maynard and Stow where 2 of the Arson Group were from I wondered if they may have had a hand in it.
I don't know if any of this is helpful, but I appreciate your time and I look forward to the release of the book as I near the twilight of my career. Please feel free to pass this along agent Miller if you think any of it may help.
BTW, I have been active as a Fire Investigator with the Central Middlesex Fire Investigation Team that is now the Mass Fire District 14 Fire Investigation Unit since 2004.
Captain Jim Gemelli, Wayland Fire Department