WORCESTER, Mass. --
A massive three-alarm fire tore through an old vacant factory building in Worcester on Monday afternoon.
The fire left a total loss behind, and investigators said they have deemed it suspicious.
Driving into Worcester, the first crews at the scene encountered black smoke visible for miles.
The decayed brick building on Route 146 was vacant at the time of the fire at about 3:45 p.m. Without electricity, power or gas, fire officials immediately deemed the fire suspicious.
"All I know is that when the crews showed up, there was fire emanating from every window on this side of the building. So, it went up fast," Worcester Deputy Fire Chief Paul Rogacz said.
The former site of a building products warehouse was slated to be refurbished into a visitor's center for the Blackstone Valley Heritage Park.
"(It's) a large building. (There was) a lot of heavy smoke, showing indications that it was going to turn into a large fire pretty quickly," Worcester Deputy Fire Chief Geoffrey Gardell said.
The old vacant factory building was considered so dangerous that firefighters took no chances, fighting the fire strictly from the outside.
"There are many holes in the floor, the stairs have burned away, it's partitioned off. It's too dangerous to send people in there, and we won't do that," Rogacz said.
Fire officials can't say if squatters were living inside, but there have been incidents of break-ins and repeated vandalism reported. The building was boarded up again just Sunday.
"They have had some other fires in the recent past, smaller issues that have been taken care of," Gardell said.
For safety reasons, officials said the building will have to be razed.
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