Burn Boston Burn
ON THE BOOK SHELF
By John M. Malecky April, 2020
Burn Boston Burn
The Largest Arson Case in the History of the Country
By Wayne M. Miller
FSP Books & Videos
188 Central Street, Suite #4
Hudson, MA 01749-1330
This book is soft cover, measuring 6-inches by 9-inches and has 430 pages. The author was a special agent for the ATF (Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms), and certified fire investigator for the U.S. Treasury ATF in Boston.
This horrific story is about nine arsonists, including three Boston cops and a firefighter who took it upon themselves to set 264 fires over a two year period in an attempt to prompt politicians and the fire department to restore massive layoffs and closed fire companies which resulted from the lack of sufficient state aid because of Proposition 2 ½ voted on by the residents of Massachusetts to reduce taxes. Part of that aim was to tax fire forces. But it also resulted in massive injuries to firefighters. An incendiary device made up by one of the members became a standard tool to set most fires.
The plan also involved removing many fire alarm pull boxes (some forcibly) at street corners in order to delay reporting of fires in targeted buildings. Some fires were also set in neighboring towns in a plot to trick law enforcement and prevent their apprehension as police and investigators closed in.
Most of the book explains details of the fires and this information was gathered by a captured diary of one of the principle arsonists and testimony, as well as cooperation from other arsonists who were apprehended. The time frame was in the early 1980’s long before computers and cell phones so there was a lot of legwork involved.
The reader will need to devote time to go through this book, as it is not a quick read. It took me about a month to finish because like most individuals I had other normal responsibilities in my life, and because I am not a speed reader. You will come upon incredulous stories which could cause scratching of your head in disbelief, particularly when it comes to realizing that these people were supposed to be devoted to protecting the public and assisting emergency services which included the field of operations of the Boston Sparks Association, which is a fire buff group that supports the fire department in a number of ways. Even the building which housed the club was hit by fire. The book goes through apprehension and trial, as well as sentencing of the individuals, and gives an epilogue.
On a personal note, this is a lot of book for an inexpensive price. Friends I know who have met the author have told me that his main focus was to get the story out about this historic story rather than to financially gain from the sales. He deserves an enormous amount of credit for his dedication.