MELROSE — A Mill Road house that had been condemned and abandoned for years burned to the ground Tuesday morning and officials are saying the cause is suspicious.

At about 5:40 a.m. someone hiking in the woods called 911 and told police that smoke was coming from the unoccupied house at 1 Mill Rd., a dirt road off Mt. Hood Terrace. Since it had long been abandoned, this was just an exterior fire fight, according to Chief Ed Collina. However, access to the building was significantly hampered by overgrown vegetation. Firefighters needed saws to cut a path so they could get to the house, adding time to the effort.

The crew on Engine 3 was first on scene and the structure was well-involved in flames by then. Engine 2 supplied water. The crews on the rescue truck and the ladder truck had to walk to the scene from Mt. Hood Terrace.

The house basically collapsed on itself. The roof collapsed, followed by a the chimney. It was completely on the ground by 7 a.m. By 9 a.m the fire was extinguished. Radiant heat from the fire caused nearby brush fires which were a concern for shift commander John White, since 2 Mill Rd. was just 50 yards away. That house was a safe distance away, however.

Officials don’t know how the fire started but because all utilities had been shut off years ago, the cause is suspicious.

The area abuts conservation land of both Mt. Hood and Flag Acres.

Malden, Saugus and Wakefield firefighters covered the Melrose stations.