ROCKLAND (CBS) – Several homes were evacuated early Wednesday morning after a vacant warehouse went up in flames overnight in Rockland.
The fire on Park Street started around 4:45 a.m. and quickly rose to seven alarms as firefighters from 13 communities responded.
Rockland police evacuated up to 20 homes in the neighborhood and no one was hurt.
The fire was contained to the warehouse, which has been abandoned for about 6 or 7 years, according to Fire Chief Scott Duffey.
“Most impressive thing I’ve ever seen,” Rockland fire captain Thomas Heaney told reporters as he described flames “raining” onto the street.
“I’ve heard stories about it. Recently they had the fire in Cambridge where embers were falling in the street. Never thought in the town of Rockland I’d be seeing something like this.”
A plume of smoke from the fire could be seen on weather radar stretching to Hanover and Marshfield before sunrise.
“The room I was in got awful hot so I opened up the blinds and the factory was all engulfed in flames,” Webster Street resident Mike Cuoloco told WBZ-TV.
“My fence was up in flames. It was basically going into my backyard at that point,” Marilyn Murphy said after she had been evacuated.
“We just grabbed what we could and just got out of the house,” resident Robert Ferrara told WBZ.
National Grid was called in and power was cut a block in each direction as a precaution.
The power outages forced the town to close Jefferson Elementary School for the day. All other Rockland schools opened two hours late.
Residents will be allowed to return to their homes once concerns about carbon monoxide subside.
There’s no word yet on how on the fire started.
“The winds actually did us a favor by blowing towards the two houses as opposed to blowing towards Webster Street. That would’ve caused us to have to deal with potential probably 10 houses, a nursing home, a church. That would’ve been a more difficult situation to handle,” Heaney said.
Duffey said the current property owner faced fines for accumulating debris and not having working sprinklers or fire alarms.
“We’ve been working with the building owner trying to get this building back into code compliance,” the chief told reporters.
“Kids and people are going in that building all the time and it’s just a matter of time for it to happen,” said Ferrara.
Investigators are asking anyone with video of the fire to call Rockland Police at 781-871-3890 or the State Fire Marshal at 1-800-682-9229.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports