UPDATE: Cause Determined in Woonsocket Mill Blaze

5th UPDATE:

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (AP) – Firefighters have contained a massive blaze that destroyed a 122-year-old mill in Woonsocket, and city officials and business leaders are beginning to weigh the historic and economic loss to the city.

The old Alice Mill Rubber Manufacturing Plant is owned by Woonsocket's American Wood Pellet Co., which was planning to use part of the space to manufacture wood pellets and lease the rest to other tenants.

Matt Wojcik, director of economic development for Woonsocket, on Wednesday called the mill a “major historical asset” to the city.

He said its loss would radically change the neighborhood but expressed optimism the 7.5-acre parcel could be redeveloped.

Fire officials say residual heat from a blow torch used by a contractor sparked the fire Tuesday evening. At least one firefighter was injured.

4th UPDATE:

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (AP) – Firefighters say they have contained a massive blaze that destroyed a 112-year-old mill in northern Rhode Island, and will allow the structure to burn itself to the ground.

Firefighters from up to 15 departments in Rhode Island and Massachusetts were called to a blaze at the former Alice Mills Rubber Manufacturing Plant in Woonsocket at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Alice Mills, just miles from the Massachusetts state line, was once considered the largest rubber goods factory in the world.

One firefighter was injured. There are reports he may have been struck by a falling wall. His condition and name were not available.

Residents who had been evacuated from nearby homes were being let back in Wednesday morning.

Smoke from the fire could be seen 14 miles away in Providence.
      
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

 

3rd UPDATE:

ABC6 News recently spoke with Woonsocket Mayor Leo Fontaine over the phone. He confirms to ABC6 News that 1 firefighter has been injured fighting the massive mill fire in Woonsocket, and has been treated for what he believes to be “dehydration.”

That firefighter was taken to Rhode Island Hospital for treatment, no word yet on his condition.

The mayor went on to tell ABC6 News that the mill building was sold to American Wood Pellet Company, but “no manufacturing had started to take place yet.”

According to the mayor, Tuesday's weather played a key role in helping firefighters contain the blaze. “We were very fortunate we had a calm night as far as the wind is concerned,” Mayor Fontaine said. He then cited how the calm night has helped contain the fire to the mill with the exception of one other building that had fire embers fall on it, but fire crews were able to quickly get it under control.

ABC6 News also spoke with Cranston Fire Capt. Stephen MacIntosh about the crew from Cranston that was sent to help fight the blaze.

According to Capt. MacIntosh, mill fires such as Woonsocket's “are impossible to ever get enough water on to get under control.” He then went on to say that once fire crews are faced with that type of fire, “the first issue is human safety, the second is taking a defensive position to prevent further spreading.”

The mill building on 85 Fairmount St. is a total loss, fire crews are currently still on scene fighting the fire.

ABC6 News has crews on scene, and will continue to bring you updates on this story.

 

2nd. UPDATE:

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (AP) – Firefighters are battling what authorities described as a “major fire” in a Woonsocket mill building that has injured at least one firefighter.

The multi-alarm fire was reported Tuesday at a mill located on Fairmount Ave. Shooting flames and plumes of smoke could be seen coming from the four-story building. Smoke from the fire is being reported as far as Lincoln, R.I.

Police have evacuated a number of nearby homes and some area homes also have lost power.

No other injuries have been reported and it was unclear how bad the firefighter was injured.

Police say they are trying to prevent curious onlookers from getting to close to take photos.

Woonsocket is located 14 miles north of Providence.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

 

1st UPDATE:

ABC6 News has learned that the mill building that caught fire is the old Tech Industries building at 85 Fairmount St. in Woonsocket, which was occupied by Portola Tech until 2009.

ABC6 News will continue to update this story.

 

ORIGINAL STORY:

ABC6 is following breaking news out of Woonsocket, where crews are battling a mill fire.

The fire broke out shortly before 8 p.m. Tuesday night, in the area of Fairmount St.  Fire crews are busy battling the fire.

One witness tells ABC6 news that “it looks like stuff is falling from the sky.”

ABC6 News has crews on scene, and will update this story for you throughout the night.