NORTH ATTLEBORO — Crews remain on the scene in frigid temperatures this morning at the multi-story old Odd Fellows building downtown where a four-alarm fire struck overnight.
The scene around North Washington Street was blocked off by fire vehicles this morning and an engine ladder looms over the building.
Fire officials told The Sun Chronicle this morning that the building will likely be torn down, possibly as early as today.
Firefighters from numerous area fire departments fought the stubborn blaze in bitter cold and blowing snow for about four hours starting about midnight when the fire was reported at the building at 30 North Washington St. (Route 1A), near Church Street, next to Bank of America and not far from the fire station.
The fire forced the evacuation of an adjacent apartment building, and the residents there were relocated to the police station. The Red Cross also responded.
Red Cross volunteers were still on the scene this morning as well.
A spokeswoman said volunteers are assisting 20 adults from 14 families from 14 units in the apartment building affected by the fire.
Ten of those families are receiving temporary shelter at a pet friendly hotel, since four of the families have pets. The other four families have another place to stay, the spokeswoman said this morning.
Volunteers are providing everyone with funds for clothing, shoes and seasonal garments. They all are receiving comfort kits, which include toiletries.
Food, beverages and blankets were also delivered to residents by volunteers this morning.
The building where the fire struck was believed to be vacant, but a few years back had been home to a hair salon on the first floor in the front.
Attleboro, Foxboro, Mansfield, Plainville, Wrentham and Cumberland firefighters helped North Attleboro firefighters at the fire scene, several departments sending ladder trucks.
“It is really on fire,” Steven Morizio, a resident living across the street, told The Sun Chronicle while the blaze burned . “They are having a hard time putting it out. The fire is coming out of the roof. It is a bad fire. They are just throwing as much water on it as they can.”
Morizio, who has lived in the Pace Plaza condominiums since 1987, estimated the flames at about 20 feet above the roof.
The first firefighters observed smoke in the rear of the building and had trouble entering the building, and also requested a thermal imaging camera to observe hot spots.
Heavy smoke was visible shortly after that in the front.
Fire was soon found by firefighters in a stairwell between the second and third floors.
Firefighters were evacuated from the building about 1 a.m. when heavy fire was reported on the second floor. It was at that time the blaze went to a four-alarm fire.
Firefighters about 2 a.m. were ordered to stay clear of a wall that was compromised.
Firefighters broke numerous windows to fight the fire.
Live wires were arching in the basement and power was shut off to the building, and later the entire block.
Fire hoses filled the downtown area and snowplows were ordered to keep clear.
The fire was reported out about 4 a.m.
Norton and Seekonk firefighters covered the fire station.
The Sun Chronicle will have more on this breaking story at this website and complete coverage in Saturday’s print edition.