Fire destroys Rehoboth’s senior center

SE Mass

REHOBOTH, Mass. (WPRI) — Firefighters battled intense flames and smoke after fire engulfed Rehoboth’s senior center on Saturday evening.

Thick smoke filling the air over Bay State Road could be seen as far as I-195 in Providence and even the Jamestown bridge.

Chief Frank Barresi told 12 News, that crews weren’t alerted by smoke alarms, but by passers-by.

“When we arrived on scene it was already flames coming through two sections of the roof of the rear of the building. We went offensive originally and the ceiling started to collapse so I pulled the crews out of the building. We went defensive,” Barresi said.

No residents or firefighters were injured, but the building is a total loss. Chief Baressi said a power line across the street also caught fire. Departments from Berkley, Attleboro, Plainville, and several other communities responded to help.

Chief Baressi said the wood structure and interior of the building allowed the flames to travel quickly through the attic.

“Yeah, we’re not sure what the electricity was doing so that was a challenge. It was also the generator was running, so we’re going to have to investigate all of that, see what might be going on with the infrastructure of the facility” he said.

Matthew Earl Jr. lives in Rehoboth and said he has never seen anything like it.

“My aunt lives right next door, so once we knew that she was safe we kind of just sat here and kind of wanted to see how this whole thing went down. I could feel the heat of the building, I was like wow. It was just like totally engulfed in flames and it was just kind of like shocked,” Earl said.

Residents said the fire at the senior center is a big loss for their community.

“People are always here, they’re always doing events, kind of like well tied into the community,” Earl said.

“It’s a loss for the community cause we have such a large elderly population in Rehoboth, and even when things start to get back to a little normal this was their home and it’s just a shame,” Baressi said.

Crews remained on the scene into the night Saturday putting out hot spots and a front-loader was brought in to raze the building. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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