Wednesday, April 15, 2009 Providence, Rhode Island

History Goes Up In Smoke In The Capitol City

The Gorham Manufacturing Company operated at 333 Adelade Avenue in the Elmwood Section of the city from 1890 to 1985, the complex was made up of twenty-one brick one to three story buildings in a area of thirty seven acres bordered to the North and West by Mashapaug Pond and the East by train tracks. The company manufactured precious metals and had one of the worlds largest foundries operating at the site. After the company relocated to Smithfield in 1985 the buildings sat vacant becoming a nuisance with frequent fires one of which leveled a main portion of the complex in 1992, By 1995 many of the buildings were gone sparing the carriage house which was proposed to be the site of the Providence Fire Museum in 1999 A Stop & Shop Supermarket was also opened on the site that same year and has since become vacant.

Providence firefighters retired and active began working to rehab the structure in July of 2002 with substantial progress being made. In early 2009 renovations looked to be headed in the right direction with new masonry work done to the exterior and a new roof installed, the building was often frequented by vandals and graffiti artists due to its location behind the strip mall.

On Wednesday Afternoon around 4:15 all hopes for a fire museum in the historic building were lost as a long tone opened up followed by "Attention Engine Companies 11,10 & 8 Special Hazards, Ladder 5, Tower Ladder 2 & Battalion 2 a Still Box, to the rear of Walgreens, 533 Elmwood Avenue reported building fire." A large loom was visible to firefighters leaving the Reservoir Avenue station, moments later Engine 11 arrived on scene reporting the Code Red. While fireground operations on channel two, "Lay A Line Into Ladder 5!" the fill in assignment went out on channel one, "Engine 14 (safety) Ladder 6 (fast) Engine 5/Air Supply fill in on a still box" firefighters on scene could only watch as the building they had invested so much time into was consumed in a heavy fire condition which set off spot fires along the pond, Engine 5 was assigned as exposure sector and handled those fires. Due to the questionable fire location Engine 14 inquired thru fire alarm "Is This The Fire Museum?" the question was answered as the fourteens arrived on scene, A Second Alarm was transmitted shortly thereafter bringing in Engine's 3,6 Tower 1, Rescue 4, & Division 1 while elevated master streams from Tower 2 & Ladder 5 worked to gain the upper hand, Car 2 relayed to command of an imminent roof collapse and members were ordered to set up the collapse zone, the truss roof eventually failed and collapsed causing multiple pockets of fire to be hidden which required an extensive overhaul operation that lasted into the night. The large vacant two story "L" shaped brick & wood carriage house was the last building left from the original Gorham Company and a part of Rhode Island History it was a total loss!
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