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2 Textile Mill Buildings Burn; Fatalities Reported Guard Says Boiler Blew Up In Complex Where 600 Worked

Tue., Dec. 12, 1995

Two buildings at a textile mill complex went up in flames Monday night. Fatalities were reported and authorities said 25 people were injured.

“I know there have been some people killed, but I don’t know how many,” Lawrence police Sgt. S. Crocker said.

One building at the three-building Malden Mills complex went up in flames about 8:30 p.m. The fire spread to a second building, causing a series of explosions and sending thick black smoke and cinders into the frigid air.

Bruce Wightman, who works the day shift at the mill, said about 600 to 700 people would have been working in the three-building mill complex and a nearby warehouse Monday night.

Joseph McManus, president of Lawrence General Hospital, said his paramedics were the first at the scene and reported about 25 people injured.

Wightman said a security guard told him a boiler exploded.

“A boiler blew and when it did, it just caught everything on fire,” he said.

Dozens of ambulances and several medical emergency helicopters from surrounding towns in Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire were called to the scene.

As the wind picked up, flaming cinders were shooting from the buildings into a crowd that had gathered to watch the fire.

Officials were considering whether to evacuate residents as the winds shifted towards a neighborhood full of one- and two-family homes.


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