BLACKSTONE – A fast-moving fire believed to have been caused by a woodstove destroyed a circa 1850s home at 163 and 165 Main St. Tuesday, leaving two families homeless.
No one was injured by the fire despite the residents having to flee their homes quickly when it was discovered just before 6 a.m.
The flames are believed to have spread from a woodstove on the first floor of one of two apartments in the two-and-a-half-story, wood-frame building up into the second floor, the attic and roof area.
Deputy Fire Chief Michael Marcoux said the fire department received a call about the fire at the station at 5:58 a.m. and arrived at the scene to find the fire well under way.
“Heavy flames were coming from the third-floor windows and through the roof,” Marcoux said later at the scene.
Firefighters observed some of the residents re-entering the lower level of the building and Marcoux said the responding firefighters were initially concerned with making sure everyone was out safely.
The heat of the erupting flames could also be seen melting vinyl siding on the next-door residential property at 167 Main St. and Marcoux said firefighters quickly set up lines to keep that property from igniting.
The intensity of the fire in 165 Main St. kept firefighters outside the structure as additional units from nearby Woonsocket, North Smithfield and Millville responded to the second alarm. Firefighters eventually brought the blaze under control but were troubled with rekindling in the structure until a decision was made by town officials to raze it as a safety precaution.
Jennifer Henshaw, 40, said she had been home at 165 Main St. with her three children, Justin, 14, Katelyn, 8, and Jacob, 6, her parents Richard and Ann Guilbeault, and her aunt, Madeline Guilbeault, when the fire broke out.
“The chimney caught on fire from the woodstove and it just shot up through the walls,” Henshaw said. “We were already up and we could hear it crackling in the walls.”
Everyone was able to get out safely but without any belongings, Henshaw noted.
“We lost everything.”
As she talked to a reporter with her children and her ex-husband, Wayne, a woman passing by heard the family’s plight and placed a few bills of cash in Henshaw’s hand to help them out. Henshaw said arrangements had been made for the family to spend the night in a motel but she did not know what they would do about temporary housing.
“We were just watching them demolish it so we don’t know what we are going to do,” she said.