WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Firefighters spent several hours knocking down a fire that broke out inside a Warwick building where R.I. House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi’s law office is located.
Shekarchi’s office is in a commercial building on College Hill Road, which is right off of Route 2.
Warwick Fire Chief Peter McMichael said the call came in for a fire outside the building around 10 p.m. Tuesday and crews arrived to find the building engulfed in flames. He said it’s considered a total loss.
12 News viewers reported seeing the smoke and flames from as far away as the Target parking lot on Route 2.
As of 6 a.m. Wednesday, smoke could still be seen pouring from the building.
Larry Berman, a spokesperson for Shekarchi, said the speaker had just returned home from a late legislative session at the State House when he got a call from Mayor Frank Picozzi about the fire.
“I was on the phone with Speaker Shekarchi when I got notified of the fire. He had told me he had heard a report, I said no, ‘fire department informs me.’ I got the text while I was talking to him, so I met him up here,” Picozzi said. “It’s a bad fire. There’s a lot of damage. Part of it’s collapsed. The roof is going down.”
Shekarchi eventually arrived at the scene and watched as crews worked to extinguish the flames.
“I thank the Warwick fire and police departments and the state fire marshal’s office for their excellence and professionalism,” he said in a statement. “I am so grateful no one was in the building and that there were no injuries sustained in fighting the fire. I have no idea about the cause and don’t want to speculate. I will let the professionals do their jobs.”
McMichael said one firefighter was treated at Kent Hospital for a minor injury to his lower back.
Shekarchi, his sister Mary, and his brother John all own units at the law office in the building, according to Berman.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, but the Fire Marshal tells 12 News that the damage is so extensive, they may never find out the cause.