Club Bebeto blaze in Johnston ruled arson by RI State Fire Marshal


By RORY SCHULER

The Rhode Island State Fire Marshal’s Office has determined the blaze at Club Bebeto in Johnston was intentionally set, and they’ve launched an arson investigation.

“The fire was intentionally set; it was started outside,” Deputy State Fire Marshall James Given said Monday. “The fire got into the wall cavities.”

Johnston Fire Chief Peter J. Lamb said that the fire resulted in “two minor injuries to firefighters and one civilian was treated.”

All of Johnston’s fire apparatus responded to the fire at 31 Greenville Ave.

Lamb said the “fire was very difficult to fight because of the building’s construction.”

It was an older building with lots of void spaces in the walls,” Lamb explained.

Neither Lamb nor Given would identified the injured individual. Lamb said the injuries were “non life threatening.”

Given said he had “no comment” on whether investigators have identified the use of accelerants in the fire.

“That part of the investigation is still open,” he said.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is called in to investigate “certain types of fires,” Given explained. If a blaze fits the criteria — serious injury, death, anything suspicious — state fire investigators step in to probe the cause.

The owners of Club Bebeto, were set to appear at a show-cause hearing at Monday night’s Johnston Town Council meeting to defend their Class D Liquor License, Restaurant License and Entertainment License.

The owners, if they appear, must “show cause” why the licenses “should not be revoked.”

“Over the last several months, I’ve noticed that our police presence has increased at this establishment,” said Johnston Police Chief Joseph P. Razza. “Based on our increased presence and public safety concerns, the owners are being summoned to appear before the Johnston Town Council.”

According to fire officials, the club was operating the night of the fire, but had closed prior to ignition.

Given said the fire was reported around 4 a.m. Sunday morning.

He said investigators are probing all possible suspects and motives, including the establishment’s struggles with licensure and police activity at the club.

“It would certainly be a track we would follow,” Given said. “We’ll follow this investigation wherever it goes.”

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