General Alarm Fire Destroys Warwick, RI Business

On March 17, 2003, a general alarm fire destroyed a family owned business that had been in operation since 1940. The fire began just before 1400 hours in the 2 and 3 story cinder block structure.

Engine 8 arrived to find heavy smoke showing and received reports from workers that Nitrogen and Ammonia were stored in an area adjacent to the fire room. All 55 of the business's workers were able to escape prior to fire departments arrival.

Firefighters began an interior attack but due to rapidly deteriorating conditions, they were withdrawn. As the fire intensified, a column of black smoke rose 150 feet into the air and forced the partial shutdown of Interstate 95 and the evacuation of nearby businesses.

Multiple alarms were quickly struck, bringing all 9 of Warwick's engines, 3 ladders, the Special Hazards and several rescues. Engines 4 and 1 from Cranston and Providence Engine 11 responded on mutual aid to the fire, while other mutual aid companies filled vacant Warwick firehouses.

Defensive operations were begun and knocked down most of the fire but due to the collapse of the interior floors, a crane was brought in late in the evening to remove portions of the building, so that firefighters could extinguish the rest of the fire.

Company employees report that the fire began when a hose dislodged from a grinding machine and created a spark. They also reported that this has happened several times in the past but those fires were quickly extinguished with extinguishers.

Members of the Warwick Fire Department Fire Prevention Bureau are investigating the cause of the fire.