WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Just about 24 hours after fire broke out inside one of the buildings at the Westgate condo complex in Warwick, the structure was reduced to a pile of rubble.
Demolition crews were on scene Thursday morning, using excavators to demolish whatever the fire didn’t devour.
The fire broke out around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. When it was all over, 38 units were destroyed and dozens of people were left without a home.
During a news conference late Thursday, Mayor Scott Avedisian said in addition to the investigation, tending to the fire victims was the first priority.
“We have been working through the night with the Red Cross, making sure people have lodging, food. We’re working on prescription drug issues, helping people get them filled. Trying to do all of the human services aspect of this. Making sure people have the necessary items they need in order to be able to start moving on from this tragedy,” Avedisian said.
The Rhode Island Chapter of the American Red Cross said it’s helping 17 families with food and clothing.
The mayor said the state Fire Marshal’s Office was investigating the cause of the fire.
“There have been lots of rumors thus far,” Avedisian said. “We are not going to speculate on any of that until we have the final report from the state Fire Marshal.”
Avedisian said demolition of the building was vital to making the scene safer, but it was not at the expense of the investigation.
“Some of the areas were compromised and the fear was collapse,” Avedisian said. “I believe that the investigators took all the information that they felt they needed before the demo started.”
The mayor and Fire Chief Edmund Armstrong said there would be an investigation into the water issues firefighters encountered Wednesday while trying to battle the fire; including low water pressure. Crews ended up having to run lines across Route 2 and also truck water in to battle the blaze when several hydrants in the condo complex didn’t work properly.
“Kent County Water Authority’s job is to bring the water to the site. It is a private development, so the question will be whether or not the inspections of the hydrants showed that they were fine,” the mayor said.