UXBRIDGE (CBS) – Uxbridge firefighters, with the help of neighboring communities, battled a six-alarm fire in the sweltering heat that destroyed a 118-year-old building on Main Street.
Fire raced through the historic mill building as flames poured out of third floor windows and right through the roof. It was a blanket of heat stressing crews on a sweltering day who had to work in shifts with mutual aid from 25 communities.
“When you have temperatures in the 90’s and a heat index of 100 to 105, wearing all this heavy gear, they can only last 15 to 20 minutes,” said Uxbridge fire chief Bill Kessler.
It was no saving grace the building is just across the street from the firehouse as on-duty crews were already on other calls.
A first floor bridal shop raced to save the day removing dozens of wedding dresses in a quick transport. A bride still in the gown she was trying on when fire broke out helped the effort. “She helped me unload inventory with her mom, the town hall employees came out, everyone was great,” said owner Sue Ann Burke whose store Bridals by Rochelle is now a total loss. “I feel fortunate the brides will be getting their wedding dresses,” she said from a consignment shop down the street where they are now being stored.
It was not such a successful rescue for tenant Caty Scharnagle who lost something precious. “I have a cat in there, my first thought was if she got out but I don’t think she did at this point.”
Support units known as rehab teams monitored the condition of firefighters, but three had to be transported for heat exhaustion.
The building will now have to be demolished due to heavy structural damage, while tenants, like Amber Laskowski, assess their devastating loss. “Everything in the building is ruined. I’m just glad no one was injured at the time,” she said.
What sparked the blaze on such a hot day is now under investigation.