A tractor-trailer truck traveling on Fall River Avenue overturned and struck a gas meter at approximately 6 a.m., causing a gas leak and fire to spread at the historic in Seekonk, Fire Capt. Michael Healy said. The building, which has been in existence in its current form for more than 50 years and includes portions of the original structure from the 18th century, was destroyed.
Healy said at the same time the gas meter was struck, the electrical circuits to the building were knocked out, which may have been what ignited the gas and started the fire.
The truck driver was taken to a Rhode Island hospital, Healy said. He did not know his condition.
State police were at the scene investigating the cause of the truck crash.
"Initially the crews made attempts to work inside the building to extinguish the fire, but due to the extreme heat, we had to move them outside for the defensive attack," Healy said.
He continued, "Shortly after that, we were able to get the crews back inside until we had two collapses of the roof. For the firefighters' safety, we had to pull everybody out of the building."
The building was pulled apart by heavy machinery at about 10:30 a.m. so the firefighters could continue the effort. Most of the noticeable smoke and fire were put out by the end of the hour.
Healy said the building was a "total loss."
The trailer was lifted on to a truck bed and driven away at about 12:30 p.m.
Crews from various neighboring communities assisted with the firefighting effort.
"This is a real tragedy for a historic landmark in this town," said Board of Selectman Chair Francis Cavaco, who arrived at the scene later in the morning. "But the important thing is that nobody was killed or injured."