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Grist Mill Total Loss in Fire, Captain Says

The fire was started after a truck struck a gas meter.

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."

Joe June 24, 2012 at 07:46 PM
The plans are in the process of being drawn up at this time. Construction is scheduled to start in 2015
Joe June 24, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Fortunate that it did not happen on a Sunday afternoon when there could have been a lot of people inside.
Joe June 24, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Does this mean that the fire dept. can look forward to another $10,000.00 check from Columbia Gas?
Helene June 24, 2012 at 09:56 PM
I am so sorry this has happened. It is one of my favorite places to eat. I hope it will reopen soon!
Jeane June 25, 2012 at 12:20 AM
My husband and I just returned from the Grist Mill this evening. What an awful sight. One of he most beautiful places has been reduced to rubble. Everyone I overheard kept saying "They have to rebuild". I so hope so. It is just heartbreaking to see it now.
ammcdonagh June 25, 2012 at 01:20 AM
I remember going to lunch there with my dad!! So sad.
janet dimaio June 25, 2012 at 01:35 AM
I had my retirement party and my mother's 90 th birthday celebration there. I hope they rebuild it exactly like it was. So sad.
Jonathan Friedman (Editor) June 25, 2012 at 01:57 AM
The three photos taken by Robert Amaral were incorrectly credited to Bill Rupp and me. I have made the correction. Two were credited to Bill Rupp because I thought he had taken them. The one credited to me was because I made an error changing the photo credit option while I was running around today covering the fire. I received an email from a reader deeply concerned that I was attempting to take credit for photos I did not take. I assure everybody that I would prefer my byline appear on here less, not more.
Jonathan Friedman (Editor) June 25, 2012 at 01:58 AM
And thanks to Robert Amaral for taking great photos of this unfortunate incident and contributing them to Patch.
Sandy Lima June 25, 2012 at 02:39 AM
My first dates with my spouse were at the Grist Mill and we frequented it often throughout the years. The bar was so great to meet and have drinks and talk and you could just picture a bygone time when folks would have ridden up to the GM on their horses. And the ducks and swans provided such an ambiance not available anywhere else. It will be missed. I hope it is rebuilt so that the one prominent thing the fire did not consume - the Grist Mill sign - can proudly be hung once more.
Steve Hopkins June 25, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Sad, but the first time it was destroyed by fire. Last time I believe it started in the kitchen during the night - after closing time. Maybe late 60's or early 70's.
Steve Hopkins June 25, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Supposed to say - NOT ... the first time it was destroyed by fire!
Gary Smith June 26, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Robert, I have worked at D.F. Pray for twenty six years and have lived in Seekonk for twenty three of them Your suggestion that D.F. Pray has any culpability in this tragic accident is highly irresponsible. You owe me an apology for your anonymous and false accusation. Me, and the many other local employees that work here in Seekonk. D.F. Pray has smaller offices from Boston to California. But our home office is here in Seekonk, by choice. Our roots are here. They have been since1959. You owe us an apology. And there's a trucker in the hospital. You might owe him one too.
Carol Bragg June 26, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Has the investigation shown that speed was the issue? I heard someone had cut him off. How well does a truck with 20,000 lbs. of bananas do on a narrow curve if someone cuts it off?
Joe June 26, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Perhaps you should learn ALL the facts before you make statements like you have here or do you have some super powers that let you see what happened even before the investigation is complete. Thank god that the driver was treated and released and no one else was hurt.
Steve Hopkins June 26, 2012 at 01:38 AM
There have been many accidents there . My father was a Seekonk cop, Station 3 fireman, and photographer for the town I remember him going to the Grist Mill corner photographing, directing traffic and helping to control a resulting car fire. I think I was too young to go there with Station # when it burned down last.
Just the Facts June 26, 2012 at 02:40 AM
Obviously Robert hasn't been behind the wheel of anything bigger than a Briggs/Stratton ride on mower! Did the truck blow a tire? Was there another car involved? Was there some kind of mechanical malfunction? Did the load shift from improper packaging?To accuse the driver of being @ fault w/ no knowledge of the incident or the particulars of the accident just shows your lack of inteligence. All plane crashes must be pilot error too. Right? Fourtunantly there are people w/ the know how that you seem to lack investigating the situation and will determine the cause. I'm sure if they get in a bind they know how to get ahold of you to get your expert testimony in Heavy Truck Operation....
Joe C. June 26, 2012 at 04:35 PM
I am holding in my hand a copy of the "Seekonk Sentinel" , later renamed The Seekonk Star, dated August 23, 1972 . On page 15 there is an article about the intersection in front of the Grist Mill. It states that something must be done, as this is one of the most dangerous intersections in Seekonk.
paul June 26, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Now that the Grist Mill is a burned mess, everyone is slowing down to gawk at the carnage. The intersection is much more safe now with cops hanging around keeping looters at bay. We can wait another 40yrs!
deb of see-attleboro June 26, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Wasn't the "Seekonk Sentinel" actually an alternative to the "Seekonk Star"? I seem to remember both papers were on newsstands for a time.
deb of see-attleboro June 26, 2012 at 05:58 PM
I can hardly wait to read a report. The discussion following this event is similar to that which followed tropical storm Irene. Lot's of finger pointing. The difference here is there was no "act of God". Or was there? As has been pointed out, we should be thanking God the building was unoccupied.
Mike June 26, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Just for the record, the truck was owned by W.E. Pray, not DF Pray. Two totally different companies.Good to know what you're talking about before disparaging a company that had no involvement........
Carol Bragg June 26, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Thanks, Mike, for straightening this out. D.F. Pray is construction, not trucking. Bananas don't make good construction materials. Thanks to the Seekonk FD for their once again superb job. The second-guessing and criticisms come in and we forget that the most important thing is to express gratitude to you for your work and thankfulness that there were no serious injuries.
Just the Facts June 26, 2012 at 10:12 PM
The cause has been released. "Load Shift"! The driver was not reponsible! Are you hungry? Seems there are plenty of your own words to eat......People like you are the trouble w/ society! So quick to point the finger w/o the facts!
Steve Hopkins June 26, 2012 at 10:23 PM
So, we should leave the mess there to result in drivers slowing down. ???! that will only work for a while...until the everyday drivers get used to seeing it there and stop looking. Just human nature.
Carol Bragg June 26, 2012 at 11:40 PM
According to the DPW, the state will begin working on the intersection in 2014 and the work will take a full year. It will be interesting to see how traffic will be re-routed to accommodate the construction. Meanwhile, we can anticipate 30-40 crashes each year until the work is started. Are there things we can do meanwhile to try to ensure greater safety? Frankly, I would detour all but local traffic on the section of Arcade between Route 44 and Fall River Ave. I always go west on Route 44 to the traffic light down by Price Rite and turn left onto Fall River Ave. to avoid the nightmare at the Arcade, Mill, Fall River Avenue intersection. The state controls Fall River Ave. but it doesn't control Arcade and Mill. Can the town take some interim initiative(s) to reduce crashes at that location? I know the fire department didn't like my suggestion years ago to make that section of Arcade one way going from Fall River Ave. to Taunton Ave. But restricting to local traffic, police and fire vehicles would seemingly make it safer.
Gary Smith June 27, 2012 at 12:14 AM
I dont believe the name of the trucking company has ever been in question. Here's how I see it. You have repeatedly and knowingly, falsely accused D.F. Pray, a general contractor and it's drivers of causing the tragic fire at the Grist Mill. Or you were wrong. Your call.
paul June 27, 2012 at 02:07 PM
This whole story is bananas!
TJ June 27, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Bottom line, everyone needs to get a bigger message, NO ONE was killed, the truck driver was injured, but maybe finally something will be done (2014 is a long way off) about this "intersection" or really, mess of roads coming together. To me there is no irony in the obvious, I'm with the person above "act of God" 6am instead of 6pm, etc. and the company's name is W.E. Pray, hello "we pray"!! We better pray that anyone and everyone, be they drivers on the roads, politicians, engineers, and citizens to support taking the whole situation to task and every domino that fell into account and hold them accountable to do better at what they do, this is a major disaster averted. So "we pray" this time, maybe all people will get the message, whether you believe or not, doesn't matter. Thank everyone who risked their lives and safety to help and clean up, those who are already or sought to do the right thing(s) before this accident happened, and those who will fight for positive changes be they large, small and a lot faster than 2014, you know, safety and common sense in the meantime, put up the traffic lights now, blockade the middle portion of Mill Road with Jersey barriers now, these are not difficult things to do until the big, full changes are made and they will save lives!!
LCA July 09, 2012 at 06:14 PM
The point here deb is not the name of the newspaper but that the article was written 40 years ago and nothing has changed.

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