NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Fire officials say 60 to 70 vehicles were already engulfed in flames as crews arrived at a salvage yard in North Providence early Friday morning.
Firefighters responded around 2:30 a.m. to reports of smoke billowing into the air from K&R Auto Salvage Inc. on Smithfield Road, according to Battalion Chief Dan Usenia.
“We had multiple cars on fire in the rear of the structure, approximately a couple hundred feet behind the building, with heavy fire conditions,” he said. “With the wind, heavy smoke, you could see it from Mineral Spring Avenue when we were coming.”
Usenia said it took nearly three hours to get the flames under control because the cars were stacked on top of each other and crews had to peel them back one by one.
“Once we contained the fire and knocked a lot of it down, we had to wait for the management to come,” Usenia explained. “They used their excavators and payloaders and started piecemealing, taking the cars off a few at a time, and then we were extinguishing them and moving them to a safe area.”
Providence firefighters were called in to assist along with a hazmat team from Woonsocket who monitored the air quality in the area since car fires can introduce toxins into the atmosphere.
The air quality was deemed safe, officials said, and no injuries were reported.
Eyewitness News spoke to the owners of the salvage yard but they declined to comment.
The cause of the fire is now being investigated.