I attended a meeting of police, bar owners, and the Lowell Downtown Neighborhood Association at city hall tonight, and as I left the meeting I was chatting with Fire Chief Edward Pitta about a couple things. I told him “well, I’d better get going before I miss an actual fire or something.”
I started walking back toward my office and made it to Market and Dutton streets before I noticed what’s pictured below in the sky head of me.
I tell this story because of the ridiculous coincidence, not because I think it’s funny.
I would soon learn that firefighters were on their way to Canada Street, where Deputy Chief John Mulligan told me crews arrived to find a corrugated metal building and several shipping containers fully engulged in fire.
“It was fully engulged when we arrived,” Mulligan told me. “We couldn’t get within 20 feet.”
Reader Paul Sweeney emailed me the photo above that he took from the nearby bridge on Lincoln Street.
The corrugated metal building and storage containers were used as a shop by Tommy Tree, a family business based on Manchester Street that trims trees, digs foundations, and does other odd jobs around the area.
The photos from here on down were all taken by Tory Germann.
Mulligan said the reports of explosions were due to propane tanks and gas containers on the property, and that the explosions weren’t anything too huge.
There were no reports of injuries.
There is no electricity to the building, though, so the Fire Investigation Unit was called in to investigate.
The business is owned by Kristina Dion, and run by her husband, Paul, along with about five other employees.
Kristina Dion told me the property is owned by Lowell Iron and Steel, which the city’s GIS system confirms. But it was Dion who had about 30 cords of wood, tools, and other items stored in the buildings.
“It’s more of a storage space for us,” Kristina Dion said.
Dion wasn’t sure last night if the company’s insurance will cover the damage.
The family has been in business for over 20 years, so I’ve got my fingers crossed tonight that things work out for them. I asked Kristine to call back later this week to let me know how things turn out, so I can share that news with the community.
This blaze does appear to be suspicious, according to both police and fire radio broadcasts I’ve heard, so we’ll be checking back first thing tomorrow to see if any progress has been made toward determining a cause.
In the meantime, keep the Dion’s and their employees in your thoughts.