ATF assisting in Providence mill fire probe

Photos: Five-Alarm Fire Destroys Providence Mill >>

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — More than 12 hours after a massive fire ravaged a Providence industrial building, crews were still on scene dousing hot spots which, according to the fire chief, likely won’t be extinguished for another day.

The fire started just after 11:30 p.m. Monday night on 4 Sims Avenue. By the time crews brought it under control, the 90,000-square-foot building was destroyed. A second building was severely damaged and will likely be torn down. A third building, which houses the medical marijuana advocacy group, RIPAC, sustained heavy water damage, but no fire damage.

The Investigation

Due to the size of the fire, the ATF, State Police and state fire marshal are all investigating the cause.

Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré said investigators won’t be able to pinpoint the cause of the fire until investigators are able to get inside the building, and that likely won’t happen for another day.

While he said there is no reason to think it’s suspicious, he said there’s no reason to think it’s not.

Paré said a crane will be at the site Wednesday morning to begin the demolition process.

(Tony Petrarca/WPRI)
ReportIt!: View fire photos »

The Battle

At least seven ladder trucks and 12 fire engines were at the scene of the fire.

When crews arrived, Chief Clarence Cunha said they encountered heavy fire.

“No one entered the building, we are doing an exterior attack,” said Cunha. “Right now, we have the building completely surrounded.”

It was a good thing firefighters weren’t inside, as three walls of the building came crumbling down, with bricks and cinder blocks covering the streets. The flames also destroyed the roof – giving a clear view of the twisted metal and burned wood inside. Officials said there was also an explosion.

“We’re fortunate because there was an explosion. The walls did come down and luckily we weren’t in close proximity because it would have taken any equipment that was close or any people that were close,” Paré said.

Derek Silva from the Providence Fire Department Union captured the collapse on camera.

In addition to the flames, crews also had to overcome icy conditions since temperatures dropped below freezing.

One firefighter was reportedly injured fighting the fire, though his injuries are considered non-life threatening.

Below is coverage of the fire on Eyewitness News this Morning.


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