A dust explosion caused the fire at Inferno Pellets in Rumford that East Providence firefighters continue to fight Tuesday evening, Aug. 20.
"We trying to get to hidden fires," said East Providence Fire Chief Oscar Elmasian about 6:30 pm. "We'll probably be here for several more hours."
Elmasian said firefighters also had to deal with a partial roof collapes.
Firefighters were called to the blaze inside the wood pellet manufacturer about 2:31 pm.
One man was taken to Rhode Island Hospital with unknown injuries, said East Providence Acting Fire Marshal James Bellamy.
At one point, firefighters were pulled out of the building, which manufactures wood pellets for home stoves. The fire had spread up into the roof area, making it unsafe for firefighters to knock down the blaze.
The building is filled with wood chips, ground wood and chemicals to make the pellets.
Stephen Oliveira, a security guard with Avellino Security, called in the explosion to 911 after hearing what he thought was a tower at the manufacturing company collapsing at 2:31 pm.
“I heard a loud bang,” said Oliveira, who was stationed at the company next door. “I looked over and saw all the towers still standing and then figured it must have been an explosion.”
White smoke was billowing out of the roof of the company, he said. Then it quickly turned into plumes of black smoke.
An aerial ladder truck was pouring water into the building from a nearby street at around 4 pm. About 15 minutes later, the truck stopped dousing the blaze as smoke appeared to lighten. Then the water-replenished truck went back to work.
East Providence firefighters were joined by companies from Seekonk, Pawtucket and Warren. Fighting the fire at the former Nyman paper company was compounded by the fact that it was believed to be filled with wood pellets for distribution for the winter season.