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May 20, 2018
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General News: Investigators Work to Determine Cause of Fire

A view of the destruction from the roof of the mill.
A view of the destruction from the roof of the mill.
A fire truck shot water on a section of the complex that was still burning Monday.
A fire truck shot water on a section of the complex that was still burning Monday.
A view of the destruction from the roof of the mill.
The dismantling of the bridge in the rear was key to keeping the fire from the brick mill to the right.
The dismantling of the bridge in the rear was key to keeping the fire from the brick mill to the right.
The exterior of the warehouse where the fire likely started was still standing Monday morning.
The exterior of the warehouse where the fire likely started was still standing Monday morning.
Fire chief Patrick Hines is still working 24 hours after the fire started.
Fire chief Patrick Hines is still working 24 hours after the fire started.
Water hoses filled with ice created a problem for firefighters.
Water hoses filled with ice created a problem for firefighters.
Andrew Lattimore inside his art classroom at Firth Carpet Monday morning as smoke swirled outside the window.
Andrew Lattimore inside his art classroom at Firth Carpet Monday morning as smoke swirled outside the window.
January 16, 2012

By Nancy Peckenham

State and county fire investigators are on the scene of the massive fire that ripped through Cornwall Industrial Park Sunday as firefighters continued to pour water on small fires and hot spots throughout the complex early Monday morning. Investigators are starting to sift through the debris to try to determine the cause of the fire that apparently started in the warehouse that is home to Superior Packing Corporation.

A warren of buildings in the rear of the complex were completely destroyed in the blaze but firefighters were able to save the buildings closest to Mill Street, including the original brick building that housed the Firth Carpet Mill.

Non-working Hydrants Added to Firefighters Problems

Cornwall fire chief Patrick Hines has been on the scene of the fire since it was reported around 10:30 Sunday morning. He says that more than 150 firefighters from 18 fire companies fought the blaze, which was finally brought under control after nightfall on Sunday.

Hines says that the water supply was a major problem for the firefighters who arrived on the scene Sunday morning. When they hooked up to the fire hydrants inside the complex, several of them did not work. Firefighters then had to run hoses up and down Mill Street to working hydrants throughout the neighborhoods. By Sunday afternoon, when the water main on Mill Street broke, they were forced to pump water from Moodna Creek, which runs along the buildings that were most heavily hit by the fire. (See article about water-related emergency.)

Cold Temperatures and a Broken Water Main

The coldest temperatures of the winter contributed to the difficulties the firefighters faced. The moment that water stopped flowing out of the hoses, it would freeze, rendering the hoses inoperable.

Fire chief Hines also said that 30 mile per hour gusts of wind also fed the spread of the fire Sunday afternoon, as it moved in the direction of the old Firth Carpet Mill. “The valiant work by some firefighters saved that building,” Hines said, explaining how they removed sections of a wooden bridge that connected the mill to the rear complex as aerial streams of water were loaded onto the structure. On Monday morning, much of the complex was shrouded in ice.

Water tanks will be used as a water supply on Monday to put out the remaining hot spots in the rear of the complex, Hines said.

Crumbling Brick Walls Left By Fire


From the roof of the Firth Carpet Mill, the widespread devastation caused by the fire could be seen amid the smoke. Only a few walls remained of the brick buildings in the rear while the newer concrete block buildings still stood, though their interiors were apparently completely gutted.

Several people who have businesses in the Firth Carpet Mill building came back Monday morning to see if they could assess the damage. Bill Diamond of Bill Diamond Productions and Sam Brach, who owns a tool and die business, speculated that they may have suffered smoke damage but nothing more. Painter Andrew Lattimore came into the building to have a look at his studio and art class rooms where the acrid smell of smoke lingered in the air.

Lattimore described a tense day filled with anxiety on Sunday as he worried about the potential loss of all of his art work and antiques that he has collected throughout his life – as well as the work of other artists who have their studio in the building. He was thankful that his studio had not been destroyed but his heart went out to the owners of Scenic Art Studios, who create sets for major Broadway productions and whose warehouse was completely destroyed in the blaze.

It is not known when the fire investigators will conclude their work to determine the cause of the fire.

Click on any photo for a larger view.



Comments:

According to their website, CenterLine Studios was also spared.

http://centerlinestudios.com/

For such a wide-ranging conflagration, I'm glad so many of the other businesses there were able to keep their production facilities (relatively) intact!! And it also seems like no one was hurt!


posted by Stephen Sywak on 01/16/12 at 12:14 PM

Hmmm? ... old building, multiple code violations, a hurricane that diminishes if not incapacitates some of the buildings, a mysterious weekend fire ... if it looks like a duck, walks like duck ... why it could be an insurance fire, eh? Thanks to all of our Vols who braved the flames and weather!!


posted by Joe Cavallo on 01/16/12 at 12:32 PM

I'm concerned because I heard that this building has had fire code violations for some time and when something finally DID happen it put our firefighters at even a greater risk than they "normally" have to face.

I should hope the investigative work will yield some enforcement! What a disaster it could have been ---- because that building is usually filled with workers on a Sunday.


posted by Brian T. Fiorio on 01/16/12 at 1:48 PM

Does anyone know when all that frozen hose will be available to fight the next fire?


posted by dave house on 01/17/12 at 10:29 AM

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