Fire destroys Uxbridge building

Courtesy Matthew Gregoire

A multiple alarm fire heavily damaged a three-story commercial and residential building in the Uxbridge business district Thursday.

Officials said the fire broke out at about 2 p.m. at 32 South Main St. The fire was under control about an hour later.{} The roof of the structure collapsed.

Kimberly Grenier lives two doors down from where the fire broke out.

She said, "Smoke was all in my house, that's all I could smell in my house, is smoke, it's scary."

Grenier took a photo of the smoke cloud pouring towards her house from the massive fire as it drifted her way.

Grenier said, "At one point the smoke was so bad that we had to go around to the side of the house because we couldn't breathe, and we couldn't see our house. So we shut off our air conditioners and kept the windows closed, because then the smoke was black."

This six-alarm fire required hundreds of firefighters from across the region, and crews spent close to four sweltering hours dumping water on the huge brick building from all angles trying to get flames under control.

The building that burned was a 100-year-old mixed use structure with two businesses on the first floor, and on the upper floors at least six apartment units.

"Police officers did everything they could to evacuate the first and second floors and then the fire got too intense, but it's my understanding that all occupants of the building have been accounted for," said Uxbridge Fire Chief Bill Kessler.

The Uxbridge Fire Department was located right across the street.

So, after she saw smoke, the owner of a small bridal shop on the first floor of the burning building simply ran over and knocked on the door to report the fire.

"My understanding is that there was a bridal party in the bridal shop and they were getting fitted at that time, and with the help of the police and others, we believe they were able to get all of their gowns and dresses out," Kessler said.

That is, all of the already purchased dresses.{} Several hundred gowns were destroyed, but NBC 10 was able to snap a few still photos of the pre-purchased and 'already loved' dresses local brides and bridesmaids are counting on wearing at upcoming weddings.

Thanks to help from responding police officers and with a few loaned rolling clothing racks from the nearby Re-Find Consignment Boutique, all of the pre-ordered dresses were saved from the fire and water.

The gowns that were rescued had been wrapped in plastic and were grabbed so quickly, that they don't even smell like smoke.

According to Grenier, "The bridal shop business, the lady who owns it is really nice. I went over there about four years ago, and looked for a wedding dress. She's got gorgeous dresses. I'm glad she got everything (that was important) out though."

And those dresses were rescued not a minute too soon.

The entire building is slated for demolition Thursday night.

Uxbridge Town Manager Sean Hendricks said, "We have determined that the building is going to come down. If you were able to see up close to the building, which of course, no one can, there is evidence that the structural integrity of the building has been compromised. A couple of the exterior walls are actually bowing out, which is sort of an interesting sight from a brick building."

Thursday's response was a team effort to even just survive in the searing summer heat.

Peter Ostrosky, from the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal's Office said, "Uxbridge fire department and all of the responders did a great job with these high heat conditions that we're all dealing with. The Chief and his personnel did an excellent job containing this fire and we're working in conjunction with Uxbridge Fire and the Massachusetts State Police to determine the cause and origin."

On top of the many Red Cross workers, Providence Canteen Truck, and the state's specially outfitted Emergency Response Vehicle, it took a team effort to keep all of the first responders safe.

Even the local Subway Restaurant on Main Street offered tired, overheated firefighters a place to cool off, and free subs to all rescue workers.

NBC 10 spoke with Joshua Schlegel, owner of local business Tattoo 122, who is setting up a Facebook page for those looking to help those who have been displaced by this massive blaze; the page, which can be found by using keywords Uniquely Uxbridge, will be available beginning Friday.

The cause of the fire is still unknown.