Actually, the fires didn't unveil anything that people living here didn't already know: Much of the housing stock in Lewiston's core is old, poorly maintained and tightly packed.
We have been writing about the problem for well over a decade and the city's administration has been working on it even longer.
The steep economic downturn and housing crisis have, however, hastened a process of decay that has been under way for decades.
It is important to understand that a match in the hand of a malicious 12-year-old is impossible for anyone to predict or prevent.
It's easy to blame parents, but we have seen arson cases in all types of towns and in rural areas. It is also easy to see how a big fire can ignite an idea in a similarly inclined child or adult.
So, we hope that three fires in seven days is just a bizarre and unlikely twist.
But there is no doubt that a neighborhood with condemned or vacant buildings is at particular risk, and the number of those at-risk buildings jumped from 53 last April to 86 this year, and that's even after the demolition of 13 buildings since.
Most of those buildings can be found clustered in a crescent surrounding Kennedy Park.
Some people say landlords are to blame. Landlords will say it's bad tenants who ruin good buildings.
In reality, a rental market is a complex system. Landlords need to attract responsible tenants willing to pay enough money to cover the building's expenses, including heat, maintenance and return on investment.
In a troubled rental market, there are dozens of ways those necessary relationships can break down.
Landlords can overpay for a property, leaving themselves without enough return to properly maintain a building.
Good tenants move out and, as the building declines, it becomes increasingly difficult to attract responsible tenants.
That can begin a cycle of decline that drives down the value of the investment property until it becomes hopeless to recover.
The company owning the building where the first Lewiston fire started, Watkins Property Management, had been dissolved, according to records kept by the Maine Secretary of State.
Even a good landlord who is trying hard can be done in by a neighborhood that is gradually going to ruin. As a block becomes crime-ridden and buildings fall into disrepair, responsible, employed tenants leave for safer environments. They are often replaced by less-responsible tenants and gradually declining rents.
When that happens over several blocks, a once-proud neighborhood can quickly go into decline.
Ultimately, landlords cannot maintain their buildings or make their monthly mortgage payments and either surrender the building to a bank or simply walk away.
Those buildings can be sold at low cost to landlords who will fix them up and seek better tenants. But broken-down buildings are too often sold to landlords who make no improvements and accept irresponsible tenants.
Too often those buildings go from bad to worse, or from foreclosure to condemnation.
There are some things a city and other organizations can do to stop buildings and neighborhoods from sliding into decline, like better code enforcement and making programs available to rehab bad housing.
One is strict code enforcement. Lewiston has tried hard over the years, but it has also lost code-enforcement personnel.
The final stage is condemnation, and Lewiston has had an aggressive program of turning dangerous housing into empty lots.
Some of those lots have been turned into new housing, either for low-income people or the elderly, over the past decade.
A variety of community organizations are working to improve the quality of life in Lewiston's downtown and, by extension, its housing stock.
An improving economy will help, but it will be a long process.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.