CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) — The fire that left 16 Central Falls residents displaced was caused by a gas-fired wall heater unit, according to investigators.
Firefighters rushed to the Cowden Street apartment building for reports of flames shooting from the third floor, which is where the heater was located.
Sera Rodriguez lived on the second floor of the building and was relaxing with her 6-year-old son when the fire alarms started going off.
“We’re all [shaken] up,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said she and her neighbors are now starting from scratch, adding that she had to throw out several bags of items.
Those items included her son’s brand new Christmas presents.
“It’s just material stuff, which can be replaced, but around Christmas time…” she said.
Rodriguez wasn’t surprised to hear that the heater was to blame.
“The heating system, [the landlord] says, is brand new,” Rodriguez said. “But you can just tell by smelling it.”
12 News reached out to the landlord, who was adamant that the fire wasn’t caused by the heater. He claims the heating system is brand new.
Carmen Rodriguez, another tenant, said she and several others have been trying to get ahold of their landlord regarding the heater. She claims that, every time she would call him, he would tell her he was too busy.
But the landlord argues those conversations never happened.
Sera Rodriguez said she hasn’t heard from the landlord since the fire, and just wants to know what she and other tenants are supposed to do from here forward.
“Right now I’m at my sister’s house, but some of [the other tenants] are at hotels,” she said. “How long can that last?”