WOONSOCKET – A quick response by city firefighters to an early morning fire Saturday may well have saved a Main Street landmark.
A passerby reported smoke coming from the former Rhode Island Hospital Trust building at 162 Main St. at around 3:16 a.m. and got a full response from city fire stations, Deputy Chief Thomas F. Williams reported Saturday.
The ornately-designed bank building located across the street from the city’s historic Harris Hall municipal offices was once the state Registry of Motor Vehicles headquarters in the city but has been vacant and up for sale for several years.
Firefighters entering the structure to investigate the smoke made their way upstairs to the third floor and found a fire burning in the area of a converted business office, Williams said. The fire was burning in debris and paper materials scattered in the area and was knocked down by the responding companies within 20 minutes, he said. Damage appeared to be confined to renovated office area, Williams said, but smoke had also affected other sections of the six-story brick and stone building. The fire caused damage to several windows facing the Domino’s Pizza business across the adjoining municipal parking lot on Main Street.
Fire crews spent about three hours cleaning up the fire-damaged area and checking for possible extension of the blaze.
All of the city’s on-duty firefighters were called to scene in light of the size of the building and its location in a key area of Main Street, Williams said.
The cause remained under investigation by local and state fire marshals, Williams said. The building is listed with Garrett Mancieri of Keller Williams real estate and the owner responded to the fire scene after being notified.