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Fire destroys historic mill in Ashaway

November 3, 2011

Photo by Anthony aRusso

Fire swept through the historic Thames River Tube mill in Ashaway Sunday night, destroying the building completely. More than 150 firefighters were still on the scene early Monday morning. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

ASHAWAY–Flames lit up the night as a historic mill in Ashaway caught fire late Sunday, Oct. 30, and continued to burn into the early hours of Monday morning.

The Bethel Mill, located at 64 High St., in the historic Bethel section of Ashaway was completely destroyed by the fire.

All workers in the building were able to escape without injury, and firefighters began arriving at the scene at approximately 11:30 p.m. Ashaway Volunteer Fire District Chief Michael Williams reportedly arrived on the scene before any fire engines and before the flames engulfed the building.

Williams said he was at the scene all day Monday and Tuesday with the state fire marshall. He was unavailable for further comment.

According to Scott Bill Hirst, a Hopkinton Town Council member and a third generation worker at the mill, a Hopkinton history books says that William Arnold built the present dam that is in the river close to the mill in 1816, and likely built the first building to stand at the property as well.

In 1829, Jacob D. Babcock, who, according to Hirst, was a prominent figure in Hopkinton and a part of the Underground Railroad, bought the building and used it to manufacture carding machines. The mill then burned in 1848 and a new building was erected at the same site by Babcock in the early part of 1850.

For more information, pick up a copy of The Chariho Times.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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