Fears of toxins from thick black smoke prompted the entire neighborhood to be evacuated.
WBZ-TV’s Jim Smith reports.
The building caught fire in the early afternoon and quickly spread throughout the structure.
Firefighters were concerned about flames spreading to nearby homes, and also about the fumes that filled the air from the burning mill.
“They were of great concern because there was a lot of chemicals that we used in the past in this building, and we’re not quite sure what they are, but they’re all burning, and burning in conjunction with each other, so we’re not quite sure what it’s giving off,” said Dep. Chief John Danis of the Woonsocket, Rhode Island Fire Department.
No serious injuries were reported.
By early evening, firefighters seemed to be getting the upper hand while battling the blaze, but crews expect to remain at the scene through the next several hours.
“With all the vinyl siding so close by and the heat, there’s always a concern of igniting, so we felt it was safer to keep everybody out of the area. We’re looking right now at getting the power turned back on and leting people get back into their homes now,” said Woonsocket Mayor Leo Fontaine.
Sources said the building, which was scheduled to be demolished, had already partially collapsed during a recent storm this winter.