PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Several people were forced out into the cold Monday morning after a Providence home caught fire.
When crews arrived on Geneva Street around 6 a.m., flames were shooting out of the top of the structure, according to Battalion Fire Chief Kevin Jutras. He said it appeared the fire started on the second floor and spread to the third.
Jutras said the fire was so intense, he had to order firefighters out of the building. They instead worked from outside and while it took more than an hour to get the bulk of the flames under control, they were able to keep the fire from spreading to the home next door.
Neighbor Ken Richardson told Eyewitness News he woke up to sirens and the stench of smoke.
“The smell was coming in the vents of the house and I just got up in amazement,” he recalled. “Things can be all calm and normal and all of a sudden, things can get disastrous. It was a terrible scene and a terrible feeling.”
The roof and third floor collapsed so the building is very unstable, according to Jutras. He also said the weather made things difficult for firefighters with the frigid temperatures causing the water to freeze, creating slippery conditions.
Jutras said there were no injuries from the fire itself but a bystander was hurt after slipping on the ice.
A third alarm was called to give crews some relief from the elements. More than 50 firefighters responded to the scene.
“In this kind of weather, you have to give these guys relief,” Jutras said. “Obviously, flowing water, ice becomes a problem. Slip-and-falls are often a concern for us at fires like this along with just keeping civilians back. The whole street is icy and we add water to it and it makes it difficult for everybody.”
The American Red Cross said it’s providing aid to four adults and four children in two families who were displaced by the fire.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.