Christmas morning fire damages headquarters for historic group
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Dozens of firefighters battled an early Christmas morning fire on Eddy Street.
“It’s sad,” said neighbor Kayleana Tager. “It’s Christmas morning. There shouldn’t be a fire. But things happen.”
Officials don’t yet know exactly how it happened, but they do know it started in the basement.
“Luckily the building was vacant, there was nobody in it,” said Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare. “Firefighters got here quickly. It’s a stubborn fire because it’s in the basement and into the walls.”
Adding to the challenge was a storm bringing heavy rain and winds.
“We’re thankful that the temperatures are near 60, so that’s good,” Pare said. “But the rain causes a challenge, and the wind as well. It keeps inflaming the fire, and it’s going to take some time to knock this thing down.”
The building is used as the base for the Prince Hall Freemasons, a fraternal organization that’s operated in Providence since the 1700s.
“It’s an old building,” Pare said. “It’s going to take some time and it’s going to be some extensive damage, if not totaled.”
The Freemasons are thankful there are no injuries, and that the fire didn’t happen yesterday, when they held their Christmas toy drive.
Despite the fire, they say their longstanding presence in the community will continue – as it has for centuries.
“This really hurts,” said Maurice Leshawn Cooper of the Prince Hall Freemasons. “But we’re strong brothers and we’re going to be united. And we will rebuild, and be back out here in our community full force.”
The fire is actively being fought by 59 Providence firefighters. More information will be updated when it becomes available.