Firefighters spent several hours battling a stubborn, multi-alarm fire at a large Victorian home in Northbridge, Massachusetts, Friday evening, but they were unable to save the historic property.
Heavy smoke and flames could be seen pouring out of the Linwood Ave. property, which is known locally as The Victorian, Whitinsville. According to its Facebook page, the venue has hosted events like weddings and summer theater programs in the past.
Northbridge Fire Chief David White said a passerby reported smoke coming from the building around 3:45 p.m. Friday. Responding crews encountered smoke coming from the back of the building and they began their interior attack.
"We got inside, and the fire overtook us and we had to back out," White said. "We're all defensive...fire raced through the thing."
One firefighter was injured when the ceiling collapsed. The fire chief said she was taken to a local hospital and she is okay.
The home is a single family home, White said, and the occupants were not home at the time of the fire. Firefighters were able to get a dog out safely.
The fire chief said the wind wasn't much of an issue, but the age of the home presented challenges for firefighters.
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"The balloon construction, which means there's no fire stops in them," the fire chief said. "Once the fire gets going, it overtakes it pretty quick."
"This is one of the real old ones, and unfortunately we couldn't get a handle on it," White added of the home. "We gave it our best shot in terms of trying to save the building but unfortunately we just couldn't catch up to it."
White estimated the 3-story building was built in the late 1800s when fire safety code was much different.
"It's sad, it's sad when you see some of the history of the town go down like that," White said. "Firefighters in general are very nostalgic so to speak. We try to preserve the old things. It is sad to see something like this go down...unfortunately the downside of this is it's an unsprinklered building. Today's code we might have had a shot at it."
Neighbors were devastated as they watched the historic home go up in flames Friday.
"It is a shame that a piece of history is gone," said Leo Saucier, who was driving by when he noticed smoke coming from the back of the home. "The flames were starting, and then started spreading throughout the building."
"I've eaten there many times, years back when it was a restaurant," Saucier added. "It's a landmark of the town. It's a shame this had to happen."
"I love homes like this. It just makes me sad. It is history. And to see it like this, it's erasing some of it," said Uxbridge resident Melissa Young.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.