Tuesday, June 7, 2011 Woonsocket, Rhode Island

General Alarm (8) Fire Levels Woonsocket's "Alice Mills"

The Woonsocket Rubber Company was incorporated in 1867 operating from a mill building at 60-82 Main Street near Market Square, nine years later the company was the countries leading supplier of high quality rubber footwear. In 1889 Joseph Banigan the companies founder built a four story 217,689 square foot building on 7.44 acres along the Blackstone River on Fairmount Street it was named after a family member and was the largest rubber mill in the world at that time. Three years after the mill opened Woonsocket Rubber was bought out by the United States Rubber Company. The operations at the facility continued until the great depression hit in the 1930's and the mill closed leaving 1,500 jobless. The mill reopened years later and manufactured rubber good and supplied them to the efforts during the second world war before closing again in the 1960's. In September 2003 the mill was purchased by Portola Tech International a company that produces containers for various cosmetic companies and operated until 2010 when the company moved operations to 35 Martin Street in the Berkeley Mill Village of Cumberland. In 2011 the building was purchased and was in the process of being renovated for the American Wood Pellet Company.

122 years after the mill was built around 7:30 on a hot and humid Tuesday evening Woonsocket fire control dispatched a full complement consisting of Engine's 3,1,2 Ladder 2 & Chief 1 to a "Box Alarm Of Fire" at 85-87 Fairmount Street. Firefighters arrived on scene within three minutes and had "Nothing Showing" from the exterior. Crews made entry and began to investigate the cause of the alarm. As Chief One arrived he requested an emergency evacuation of the building and requested all remaining city apparatus to the scene as heavy smoke became visible from the upper floors. Multiple alarms were transmitted in quick succession requiring a massive mutual aid response from over a dozen communities in Rhode Island & nearby Massachusetts the request was filled through Northern Control. Incident command ordered incoming units on the task forces to focus efforts on exposure protection along River & Water Streets due to radiant heat from the inferno. A heavy column of smoke was visible from as far away as Providence while Oakland-Mapleville arrived and setup draft operations on the same spot along the river they used for the previous "Seville Dye Fire" earlier this year. Burrillville crews provided the adequate water supply needed for the operations along side four however a severe brand problem ignited several brush fires along the rail road tracks. Woonsocket Tower Two, Woonsocket Reserve Ladder One, Millville Ladder One, Bellingham Ladder One, Smithfield Ladder One, Blackstone Ladder One, Pawtucket Tower One & Lincoln (Albion) Ladder 20 setup and flowed water which kept the fire from extending to additional buildings however fire extended into and destroyed the one story stand alone brick building on side one along the river. Firefighters were able to keep fire from extending to the 6,731 square foot two story office building which was also built in 1889 but the building of origin was a total loss and collapsed leaving an extensive overhaul operation that went into the following days. The cause of the fire is being called "Accidental" and was possibly caused by work men using a welding torch. Two firefighters were injured and were transported to a area hospital for further treatment, three families were also displaced for a short time and was assisted by the American Red Cross. A significant power outage also occurred and city residents were urge to conserve water in the following days due to a lack of sustainable water. Glocester (Chepatchet) Engine 13 extinguished a fully involved vehicle fire on Arnold Street at the height of the fire later in the evening a call came in for a vehicle in the water at Cold Spring Park off Harris Avenue the call was handled by Blackstone crews. The closest firehouse "Station Six" is located at 504 Fairmount Street about five blocks from the fire however was closed in 2009, Ladder One which would have been the first due ladder company responded when staffed with off duty personnel.


Previous Mill Fire's In Woonsocket

June 9, 2000 96 Mill Street "Jenckesville Mill" three mills fully involved 5th Alarm

July 18, 2001 229 First Street working fire at the Seville Dye Company

February 21, 2002 Florence Drive fire in a outbuilding at the "Florence Dye & Textiles" complex

March 27, 2002 229 First Street working fire in the duct work of the Seville Dye Company

June 26, 2003 Florence Drive & Villanova Street "Florence Dye & Textiles" three mills fully involved 8th Alarm (Site Of New School's Between Hamlet Avenue & Villanova Street)

April 17, 2003 85 Fairmount Street working fire on the top floor of the "Alice Mills"

March, 22, 2005 229 First Street working fire in the Seville Dye Company

May 13, 2005 85 Mason Street fully involved two story mill with exposure problems 3rd Alarm

April 29, 2006 Morton & Villanova Street's "ACS Mill" three story mill extending to homes on Morton Street General Alarm (Site Of New School's Between Hamlet Avenue & Villanova Street)

February 27,2011 229 First Avenue "Seville Dye" one and two story mill fully involved 6th Alarm (directly across the river from the "Alice Mills")

Mutual Aid To "Alice Mills" Bellingham, Blackstone, Burrilliville (Harrisville, Pascoag, Oakland-Mapleville, Nasonville), Central Falls, Cranston, Cumberland, East Providence, Glocester (Chepatchet), Johnston Lincoln (Manville, Albion, Quinnville, Saylesville), Millville, North Attleborough, North Providence, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, Providence, Scituate, Smithfield, Uxbridge & Warren

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