Wednesday, October 13, 2010 Pawtucket, Rhode Island

General Alarm (7) For Pawtucket's "Union Wadding"

In 1847 two men Darius Goff and George Lawton bought land south of the railroad tracks and built a cotton wadding mill which they operated until it was destroyed by fire in 1851. The two then rebuilt the mill building but had a falling out in 1859. Darius Goff then partnered himself with John Cranston and Stephen Brownell and formed the company "Goff, Cranston & Brownell" who operated the mill building dealing with the buying and selling of cotton waste from other area mills and the manufacturing of Cotton Batting, Cotton Wadding and Paper Stock. In early 1870 the mill was destroyed by fire and rebuilt covering a area of three acres. Seven years later in 1879 the three changed the name of the operation to the "Union Wadding Company." The storehouse building was built two years later in 1881, and was destroyed by a fire caused by a lighting strike on July 31,1898. Numerous other structures were built in years following till the complex had extended from Pine Street to Dexter Street. In recent years the company produced Christmas decorations these operations were were shut down in 2004 leaving 160 employees jobless. The 343,000 square foot complex on 5.72 acres stood vacant till 2008 when it was purchased by First National Development for 1.3 million dollars. The new owners began renovations to covert the buildings into apartments shortly thereafter. A Portion of the "Union Wadding Lofts" was completed and occupied by the new tenants in 2009.

Shortly after 11:30 on Wednesday, October 13,2010 multiple calls began to be received at Pawtucket fire alarm reporting a building fire at 125 Goff Avenue. Engine Two left the station and transmitted a third alarm with heavy smoke in the distance and arrived at the mill with heavy fire from the rear of the still vacant section. On arrival of the battalion chief a fourth and fifth alarm were transmitted bringing in a massive mutual aid response. Heavy fire took hold of numerous interconnected buildings ranging from one to three stories in height. Numerous collapses occurred throughout the incident sending up a loom that could be seen for miles and causing several exposure problems to adjacent buildings one of which is Roberts Chemical on Pine Street. Firefighters from Central Falls, Cumberland, Lincoln, Attleboro, Seekonk, North Providence, Providence, East Providence, Cranston and Johnston worked in a surround and drown operation to knock down the overlapping fire, crews began to make progress later into Thursday morning. All of the occupants who occupy the loft apartments were safely evacuated with no injuries reported. The fire is currently under investigation by the Rhode Island Fire Marshal, Pawtucket Fire Prevention. ATF & Pawtucket Police. Firefighters remained on scene into the weekend working with hot spots still burning in the voids left during the collapses.

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