Feds begin probe into Providence mill fire

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives returned to Kinsley Avenue Thursday to officially begin their investigation into the explosive fire that destroyed a Providence mill earlier this week.

The fire broke out late Monday night and by Tuesday morning it had destroyed the 90,000-square-foot main building and damaged another smaller building. A third building sustained water damage.

While the cause is still unknown, investigators revealed during a late afternoon news conference that there was still electricity service in the building at the time of the fire. Gas had been shut off.

Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré said while they don’t believe the fire is suspicious, it hasn’t yet been ruled out.

About 20 ATF agents, from as far away as Denver, spent the day Thursday combing through some of the rubble and taking pictures.

Paré said the ATF is assisting because the scale of the fire is too large for the city fire department to handle independently.

“We’ve asked for experts from across the country to come in and these gentlemen brought their team in and they’ll be here for several days and they’re good at what they do,” Paré said. “They were here for a mill fire in 2010 and they were here for the Station fire as well, so we know their work. They do this all the time and we appreciate them coming from across the country to help us determine what the origin of the fire was.”

Paré said investigators are looking to collect more video from businesses around the area and to talk to people who saw what happened.

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