Firefighters battle flames at old Windmill Street School in Providence


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — An investigation is underway after a fire broke out at the old Windmill Street School in Providence Sunday evening.

Firefighters arrived at 110 Paul St. shortly after 8 p.m and found smoke and flames coming from the now-vacant building, and quickly began running hoses and gained entrance into the building to find the fire in a third-floor classroom.

“It had the potential to be a significant size fire,” Deputy Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Jutras said. “Fortunately, we got inside the building, it was one classroom and it was contents in that classroom that we were able to quickly extinguish and keep it to, contain the fire quickly.”

Jutras said companies had to make a forcible entry into the building and did an “aggressive interior attack.”

“The firefighters thinking on their feet knew that it was going to be an extensive hose stretch to get to this third floor, and they thought ahead and had pre-planned this building and were able to stretch those lines quickly and efficiently and put this fire out,” he said.

Jutras said the third-floor classroom sustained smoke and fire damage. He said there was also extensive damage by firefighters overhauling the third-floor ceiling, as well as water damage to the lower floors.

Jutras said the building was unoccupied at the time of the fire, and no one was injured fighting the blaze. The cause is still under investigation.

The building is owned by the Providence Public Schools but is not currently in use. However, the Windmill Street School was supposed to be renovated for use in the 2022-2023 school year.

It’s not clear if any renovations had been done to the building since the announcement by Mayor Jorge Elorza’s office last August, but the city planned to invest $30.5 million in the school.

The planned work was part of an overall $300 million dollar plan to make infrastructure improvements to Providence Public Schools.

The city said the Windmill Street School was to be renovated to serve as a swing space by the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year and for the next several years.

After use as swing space, the city said the goal was for the facility to be transitioned into a dedicated school facility and that the district would continue to evaluate long-term educational programming suitable for the space.

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