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AYER – Firefighters responded to a boxcar fire off Mill Street behind G.V. Moore Lumber Co. last Friday night, with flames said to have shot 50-60 feet into the air.

“It looked like the back of Moore’s was on fire,” said Fire Chief Robert Pedrazzi. He said he was able to see the fire from the station on West Main Street.

The 911 call came in around 9:45 p.m. Pedrazzi said due to the height of the flames, firefighters feared the lumber yard was on fire. The Devens and Shirley Fire departments provided mutual aid.

Even though the fire was contained to one boxcar, “we had them there so we used them,” said Pedrazzi of the extra hands.

Pedrazzi expressed relief that damage was kept to one boxcar.

“Thank God because there were three others right next to it,” said Pedrazzi.

“Any fire like that…there’s no other cause other than being suspicious. There’s no electricity or anything else that’s in there. It’s suspicious until it’s proven that it wasn’t,” said Pedrazzi.

Pedrazzi said that salvaged railroad ties were stacked on an open-air gondola-style train car.

The dried out ties provided plenty of fuel. The fire was extinguished in less than an hour.

Pan Am Railways police are investigating the cause of the fire, according to Ayer Police Lt. Brian Gill.

Pedrazzi said the rail car had been sitting for quite some time and so it’s doubtful that a steel wheel traveling over the rails sparked the blaze.

There was police scanner activity that night of a search for two male youths on BMX style bicycles headed away from the Mill Street vicinity headed towards Pirone Park.