One dead in fierce Pawtucket house fire

Firefighters climb a ladder to battle a deadly fire in a home on Cole St. in Pawtucket November 1, 2023 as flames and smoke shoot from the roof. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

By Steve Klamkin WPRO News

A fierce fire tore through a four-story home at 31 – 33 Cole Street in Pawtucket Wednesday morning, leaving one person dead, and a police officer treated for a hand injury after helping several other residents flee to safety.

The blaze was reported shortly before 10:30 A.M., and Robert Haworth of Pawtucket said he and a friend were sitting in a car nearby when they spotted the flames, called 911, and tried to help the ground floor resident who perished.

“We tried to kick in the door, we heard the lady screaming, and we couldn’t get through the door. My friend took a potted plant, threw it through the window, and that’s when we heard her screaming,” Haworth said.

“I couldn’t get her out, I tried,” he said.

Fierce flames leaped from the roof, and thick plumes of smoke covered the entire neighborhood near the Attleboro line, before the roof caved in. A piercing fire truck horn was sounded to get firefighters to evacuate the four-story building as the roof collapsed.

“Police got the call before us,” said Pawtucket Fire Chief John Trenteseaux. “They showed up, they had heavy fire on the driveway side, all three floors. Our first two companies here made an attack on the outside to knock it down. The other crews went in to the front. Heavy, heavy fire on all three floors in that back corner area.”

He said firefighters found the victim on the first floor.

The Rhode Island State Fire Marshal’s office is working with the Medical Examiner’s office to investigate the cause of the fire, said Chief Deputy Fire Marshal James Given.

“We do work with the Medical Examiner as far as the investigation of the fire, the investigation of the death as well. The work that my investigators do on the origin and cause of the fire will certainly help the medical examiner with their determinations of the fatality,” Given said.

Mutual aid companies from several surrounding cities helped battle the blaze, which was declared under control after about two hours.

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