FALL RIVER, Mass. -- Firefighters spent several hours at the scene of a large fire at a hardware store in Fall River Friday.
The flames started around 3:45 p.m. at Flint Hardware Co. on Pleasant Street.
“Somebody knocked on the door, opened the door and said, ‘You've got smoke coming out of your building," store owner Manuel Botelho said.
First responders initially went into the building to make sure it was cleared of people, but by 4 p.m. the flames grew to the point where everyone was ordered to get out.
The hardware store is surrounded on three sides by large apartment buildings, and although the fire caused damage to the exterior of other buildings flames did not spread.
“Saw a building in flames along with two houses with the vinyl siding peeling off. I then heard a big explosion go off. I was advised that it was propane tanks inside the hardware store. Very frightening. A lot of people around crying, upset,” witness Dawn Fernandes said.
Botelho kept warm in his truck with several of his pets as he watched the fire destroy the business he's owner for 26 years.
"It's treacherous out here right now because of the weather. Very cold, the wind is starting to pick up again and there's severe icing all over. I know personally I've fallen down twice myself," Fire Chief John Lynch said.
One firefighter was hurt when duct work collapsed, but he is OK according to Lynch. Botelho was also able to get out with most of his pets, but one cat is missing.
According to Botelho, the fire likely started in the heating system, but investigators are still working to determine the cause.
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