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Officials: Arson not ruled out in Friday fire on Loudon Road

The cause of a fire Friday that displaced one family and filled a 24-unit Concord condominium complex with smoke will likely remain unknown until early this week, officials said.

The blaze at 185 Loudon Road is still under investigation, Concord fire Chief Dan Andrus said, and officials have not ruled out arson.

“I think everything is still open,” Andrus said.

Concord police Chief John Duval said it’s too soon in the investigation to comment on specific charges.

The fire started shortly after 3 p.m. and produced heavy smoke that filled the brick building. No one was hurt, but a spokeswoman for the Red Cross said one family – two adults and an 8-year-old – couldn’t stay in their apartment because it was so badly damaged.

While no one has been charged with starting the fire, a man was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct Friday after fighting with someone he accused of starting the blaze. Michael McMaster, 31, was released later that evening on $750 personal recognizance and is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 28.

One of the building’s residents, Meg Wilcox, told the Monitor on Friday that she heard banging and yelling in the apartment below hers, where the fire apparently started.

She also said she saw the man who lives there leave the building and return right before the fire alarm went off.

Morning Star Condominiums property manager Ted Keating said most of the condos are not owner-occupied and use electric heat. He said the fire broke out in a bedroom.

Andrus said the fire eventually broke through a window and traveled to the apartment on the floor above.

The unit where the fire started was gutted, Andrus said, and the unit above it suffered serious smoke damage.

The smell of smoke lingered yesterday over the area, which was littered with charred, soaked toys and clothes. Several windows had been boarded up with plywood.

The Red Cross helped provide food, clothing and shelter for the people in the apartment where the fire started, Red Cross spokeswoman Lisa Michaud said. The family will receive up to four nights at a local hotel, Michaud said, and may receive more because it can be difficult to find long-term housing over a holiday.

Michaud said the Red Cross also gave support to a second family – an adult, a 13- year-old and a cat – for food and clothing.

(Molly A.K. Connors can be reached at 369-3319 or mconnors@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @MAKConnors)

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