June 21st, 2022
Evidence points towards arson after a vacant cereal mill went up in flames. Located at 16 West River Street, in Orange County, Massachusetts, the fire was reported on Saturday, June 4th, at 11:45a.m. The blaze quickly spread to four nearby vacant structures.
The 80,000 square foot building finished in 1890. James Young, Fire Chief of Orange County, says the building showed signs of structural weakness prior to the fire. In fact, West River Street closed in March of this year due to glass and bricks sporadically falling into the street. This structural risk not only endangered pedestrian, and vehicular traffic, but also made it more difficult to control the blaze.
More than 30 fire departments assisted in controlling the blaze, with a priority of preventing damage to the surrounding vacant buildings. Unfortunately, it was too dangerous to subdue the fire from the inside of the building due to the structural concerns. Firefighters pumped water into the building from the perimeter.
The isolated fire still had far reaching affects to surrounding efficacies. Radiant heat and embers damaged 5 surrounding buildings. A hazmat team is currently conducting testing to determine potential health and environmental risks due to asbestos exposure. Three suspects between the ages of 12 and 14 years old face potential charges for arson while the investigation remains open.
Buildings can go idle or vacant for many reasons, and are a threat to civilians, nearby buildings, and firefighters. Risk Logic recommends adherence to guidelines to protect a structure, regardless of the time it will remain vacant or idle. See “Protection for Idle and Vacant Properties” for more information. Please contact the Risk Logic team who can help develop additional loss prevention advice specific to your facility, and lower the risk of damage through basic protection evaluations.