Update: Gas Leak Contained at Seekonk Fire Site
It has not been determined how the gas main rupture occurred.
9:35 p.m. UPDATE: The gas main leak that had temporarily halted a portion of the effort to put out a fire in an abandoned mill on Maple Avenue in Seekonk has been contained, Fire Chief Alan Jack told the media during a 9 p.m. press conference on Tuesday at Memorial Baptist Church.
He said it had not been determined how the gas main rupture occurred or why the building was still receiving gas, despite having been condemned three years ago.
The effort to put out the fire will continue throughout the evening, although it will be scaled back until the morning. Jack said there were no major flames remaining, but there were various hot spots throughout the remains of the structure, which he said was destroyed in the blaze.
Jack said he believes the fire was manmade either on purpose or by accident. An investigation is ongoing, with local and state police as well as state fire officials assisting.
There have been numerous instances of people trespassing onto the abandoned property, Jack said. Also, there were reports from neighbors that people have entered the building to steal copper and other wiring. Jack said it is possible somebody who entered the building to take items could have also been responsible for the fire.
Air and water quality in the area is being monitored, Jack said. Water samples were collected by state and federal environmental officials for testing. Jack said the results of the testing could be available by Wednesday morning.
A portion of the firefight at a large condemned mill on Maple Avenue in Seekonk has been temporarily called off after an operating gas main was ruptured in the rear of the structure, Fire Chief Alan Jack told the media during a press conference late Tuesday afternoon at Memorial Baptist Church. The effort continues in the front and sides of the building.
Jack said they are talking to the gas company about the situation.
Since the mill was condemned three years ago, the discovery of an operating gas main came as a surprise to fire officials.
"We were under the assumption that gas had been terminated," Jack said. "Obviously, that was incorrect."
Nobody was injured from the rupture.
The mill borders the Ten Mile River, and there is concern about environmental damage. Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Environmental Protection collected water samples, and the results of those tests are pending. The air quality is also being monitored.
The fire started at about 4:30 a.m., and engulfed the entire structure. There were no heavy flames remaining by the time of the press conference at approximately 4:30 p.m., Jack said. However, there is significant smoldering. The effort to put out the fire will continue into the evening, Jack said.
Earlier in the day, Jack told Attleboro-Seekonk Patch that the fire appeared to be suspicious because he believed at the time all the utilities had been turned off. He said the discovery of the gas main did not change his mind.
"The fire appears to be incendiary at this time," Jack said.
The ATF and state fire officials are assisting with the investigation.
Attleboro-Seekonk Patch will have more information when it becomes available.