FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — The long-vacant Fall River building destroyed by fire will be demolished Thursday morning, 12 News has learned.
The Brightman Street commercial building, which has been boarded up for years, went up in flames Tuesday night. It took hours for firefighters to knock down the flames, which were so intense that no one could get inside the building.
Fall River Fire Chief Roger St. Martin tells 12 News the building has been vacant for “quite some time,” but used to house a casket manufacturer. Before that, the building was home to the historic Royal Theatre.
St. Martin said it was a “monumental task” to prevent the fire from spreading to other nearby buildings. Firefighters were seen dousing not only the building itself, but neighboring homes as well to keep the flames at bay.
The commercial building sold last year for $10,000, according to city property records.
“I think [the new owner’s] goal was to turn it back into what it once was … a theater,” Fall River Building Commissioner Glenn Hathaway said.
Hathaway tells 12 News he’s looking forward to the long-vacant building being torn down.
“It’s going to be sweet in my eyes, because right now it is a real danger to the abutting properties,” he said.
St. Martin said the building was previously deemed a hazard due to its condition and close proximity to other buildings. It was one of several “high-risk” buildings across the city that firefighters have previously studied.
“It’s a routine part of our training,” St. Martin explained, adding that the department’s list of hazardous properties mostly includes buildings that are blighted, high-occupancy or have unique layouts.
St. Martin said arson has not yet been ruled out as a possible cause, since the building has had its fair share of trespassers in the past and isn’t hooked up to utilities.
The Arson Watch Reward Program is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for pertinent information regarding the fire’s origin. Anyone with information should contact the Massachusetts Arson Watch Hotline by calling 1-800-682-9229.