Residents of 179 Lincoln St. stood on sidewalks watching firefighters inspect it at about 1 p.m., about 30 minutes after the Woonsocket Fire Department put out a fire there with the aid of companies from Bellingham, Cumberland and Smithfield.
Smithfield Fire Chief Robert Seltzer said his department sent one Engine (Engine 2) to the scene and one Engine (Engine 1) to relocate to one of the Woonsocket fire stations. To cover here, Smithfield had a North Providence Engine at Station #2 and a Johnston Engine at Station #1.
Martha Guildoo waited across the street with her granddaughter, LotusLynne Johnson, 18 months, as firefighters brought them the girl's blanket and stuffed monkey. Guildoo said she wasn't in her apartment at the building at the time of the fire, but her daughter and LotusLynne were there doing laundry. When they got out of the building, she said, they left LotusLynn's things behind. "So they (firefighters) went in and got some things to make it a little more comfortable," Guildoo said.
Anna C. Olson was hoping for something comforting, too - word on her Yorkshire terrier, Cassie. "My dog was in there," she said. She asked firefighters about the dog, and they came back a short time with the small, shivering bundle. "I can't believe they got her out," Olson said.
Olson, who works at CVS's Corporate Headquarters, said her landlord called this afternoon to tell her about the fire. She had heard that the building was burned to the ground, so she was relieved to see it still standing, giving her hope of finding Cassie alive.
Captain Keith Lopes, who returned Cassie to Olson, said he found the dog in the apartment. "It was huddled under the toilet in the bathroom," Lopes said, "He was happy to get out of there."
"We live on the second floor, front, or lived, I should say," Olson said - she noted that even though the building is standing, it doesn't look like it'll be possible for her to move back in.
Chester Cleveland, who lives in the rear first floor of the building at 183 Lincoln St., said his son, Richard, 32, was at home when the fire started. He said Richard was outside and noticed smoke coming from the front, where a porch chair was on fire. He said his son got a fire extinguisher from their apartment, but the fire department had already shown up when he came back outside. He said they had the fire out very quickly.
Lopes confirmed the fire began in the front of the building. When firefighters arrived, he said, "The whole front of the building was involved in flame."
By 1 p.m., Lopes said, they were just putting out all the hot spots. A few of those on the front of the building were still smoking at 4 p.m.
Cleveland said there are five apartments rented out at the building at the moment, three on the first floor and two in the back.
Residents have set up collections for the families displaced by the fire on facebook. The Renaud Family is in need clothing for their 2 young daughters ages 1 and 4. Sizes needed are 5T and 2T. "Also since we have recently celebrated the holidays the children have lost all their toys that santa brought. We are also in need of everyday necessities..," they wrote.
Donations can be dropped off at The Primitive Millhouse 1452 Broncos Hwy Unit #15 Harrisville RI (Dunkin Donuts PLaza) and 166 Carrington Avenue in Woonsocket.