SEEKONK â€” Leftover contaminants fueled a smoky blaze that destroyed a vacant Seekonk mill and made for a long and exhausting day in the rain on Tuesday for area firefighters.
According to fire officials, crews were called to the scene at around 4:30 a.m. for a fire that had broken out in an abandoned building at 36 Maple Avenue, located off Central Avenue (Route 152). Several fire officials said the cause appears to be suspicious, as all of the utilities in the building had been shut off.
The long, cinderblock building, which contained several loading docks, had been used by the Attleboro Dyeing & Finishing Company and had later housed several small businesses. It had been empty since 2009 and owned by realty company. For many years prior to that, the structure had reportedly been home to Tri-State Fasteners.
The fire at times sent large plumes of gray and black smoke into the air, and while it was brought under control within a couple of hours, proved stubborn to put out, even with the help of a steady drizzle. The burning building was also in close proximity to several homes, but no damage to any of the residences was reported.
Engine crews remained on the scene into the late afternoon, still sending streams of water into the charred and smoldering remains where portions of the roof had collapsed.
Besides the Seekonk Fire Department, fire crews responded from Pawtucket and Attleboro, and East Providence firefighters helped out at the Seekonk fire station. Pawtucket Fire Capt. Steven Parent said that the Pawtucket Fire Department had sent two engine trucks, a battalion chief and a security officer, and that he had assisted the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal in the investigation.
Seekonk Fire chief Alan Jack told members of the news media that there were a lot of contaminants left in the building, including some oil and diesel fuel, which had caused several explosions at the site in the early morning hours when firefighters first arrived. He said that leftover tires and rubber accounted for the acrid black smoke that occurred and several firefighters had to be treated for carbon monoxide inhalation. There was also concern about run-off into the nearby Ten Mile River.
Portions of Route 152 near Maple Avenue and at Pond Street were shut down until about noontime.