Fire at Draper Mill

HOPEDALE -- Firefighters from six towns successfully contained the smoldering interior of the oldest section of the historic Draper Mill yesterday afternoon, after contractors were unable to contain the sparks resulting from workers sawing a pipe.      

   "Using a cutting saw, you can create sparks," Fire Chief Scott Garland said. "They couldn't control it."   [
A report on WMRC a day or two later said that the workers tried to put out the fire themselves and didn't call the fire department for a half hour.)  

   Hopedale, Mendon and Upton firefighters responded to a 2:16 p.m. call for smoke coming out of the third floor of the Freedom Street mill.       

    Hopedale firefighter Michael Malnati was treated at Milford Regional Medical Center for minor eye injuries from falling debris, Garland said. No other injuries were reported.      

   "It was smoldering on arrival," said Garland, noting the smoky area was in the oldest section of the abandoned mill, built in 1888.  

   Bellingham, Milford and Uxbridge firefighters were called for backup. In all, 30 firefighters spent hours containing the smoke and releasing it through the windows, removing charred debris from the second and third floors, and wetting down the debris.     

   The 1.2 million-square-foot mill has been abandoned since 1980 and in serious disrepair from being unheated since 1990, Garland said.     

    Hopedale Properties LLC, which owns the mill, has been doing remediation work to better market the building, Garland said.     

   Yesterday's incident stemmed from contractors sawing copper pipe with the intent of salvaging it, according to Garland.      

   Garland said smoke filled roughly 40 feet of the third floor after the pipes sparked, and spread to another 40 feet below after burning a hole in the floor.
By Danielle Williamson, Milford Daily News, June 14, 2006.

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