Neighbors sad at loss of Old Grist Mill

SEEKONK, Mass. (WPRI) — Neighbors are rallying around the Old Grist Mill Tavern in Seekonk, after a tractor trailer crashed Sunday, causing a fire that burned much of the centuries-old building.

In the hours following the fire Sunday, diners and residents had shown up to see what had happened. Much of the building lies crumbled in ruins. Trapped gas had prevented fire crews from entering the building.

The driver of the tractor trailer, hauling a load of bananas, was identified Monday by officials as Charles Rubio, 30, of Pawtucket. He’s being treated at Rhode Island Hospital, but officials aren’t revealing the extent of his injuries.

The investigation into the ensuing fire continued under Monday’s heavy rainfall.

Troy Martel, a fellow business owner, donated a storage container for the salvage process. “I was shocked, especially to see it last night on the news,” he said. “Me and my wife have been coming here for years.”

The one wish of owner Greg Esmay is coming a little closer to reality. “What I want to do, what I would do in a heartbeat… is put the Grist Mill looking like the Grist Mill: all the crazy peaks, and all the nutty stuff that it looked like,” said Esmay on Sunday.

Construction worker Dave Wood has worked minor projects at the Grist Mill for years, and came by to see the situation. Though it’ll be a much bigger project this time, crews are hopeful something can be salvaged, and the site can return to the beauty that’s stood for hundreds of years. “It’s very sad,” Wood said. “It was beautiful in there.”

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