30 displaced in Woonsocket fire

Andrea Medeiros


Neighbors stepped in Sunday to help dozens of disabled and elderly people who were forced out of their homes in Woonsocket after their apartment building caught fire.

One person was rushed to the hospital, and four apartments were destroyed after fire and smoke filled an entire wing of the Chateau Clare Apartments. Dozens of elderly people had to be rushed out.

A lot of the people who call the complex home are in wheelchairs and can't get around themselves, so it's thanks to neighbors and firefighters they were able to escape.

Doris and Raymond Rabideau have called the Chateau Clare Apartments home for eight years, but a fire early Sunday morning almost changed that. They and dozens of their friends were evacuated as smoke tore through part of their complex.

“I'm out here now,” said Raymond as we asked him if he was happy to be home, “Yeah, oh yeah.”

The couple was some of the lucky ones who were able to move back in hours later. It's not that easy for them to get around, so their daughter is thankful to the people who helped them out in the first place.

“They got my mom out and they picked her up and put her in a wheel chair, and then the firemen came and actually picked my dad up and put him in a chair and took him out,” said Suzanne Portney.

Next door neighbors sisters Rose and Catherine stepped in when 30 elderly and disabled people were rushed out at four thirty Sunday morning.

“I saw smoke coming out from over there, and there were elderly people sitting outside, and I just felt so bad,” said Catherine Soucy, “I asked her if I could make some tea and coffee for them.”

“I just felt so bad and saw somebody crying and we really wanted to help out as many people as we could,” said Rose Rousseau.

So the pair brought out blankets and offered up their bathroom next door. The Red Cross also opened up shop nearby to help out. All of that gave concerned daughter, Suzanne, piece of mind leaving her parents at the complex.

“I think the neighbors around here are terrific,” said Suzanne, “They do watch out and they're right across the street, and I believe if anyone was in trouble, they'd give them help.”

The fire alarm system was still down in that building Sunday night, so fire crews were standing by on each floor in case something else happened.

Fire officials are still looking into the cause.