TREMONT - Neighbors say a Washington Avenue landlord may be responsible for a fire that destroyed his own buildings Friday.

"I think it happened on purpose," says Matthew Ruys, who witnessed the blaze. "Probably someone couldn't pay the mortgage or something."

"I heard him offer a couple of kids on Bathgate Avenue some money to get rid of the place," says another neighbor, who asked to remain unidentified. "That's all he said ? 'get rid of the place.'"

The fire ripped through five homes on Washington Avenue and only two remain standing. Official are calling the fire suspicious.

Neighbors say two of the charred buildings had been abandoned and known to frequently be visited by drug dealers and squatters.

Fire officials say the exact cause is still under investigation.

Firefighters battle 3-alarm blaze in Tremont