No injuries following R Cee’s Pub basement fire in Orange

  • Firefighters enter R Cee’s Pub at 22 South Main St. in Orange, where a fire started in the basement on Monday morning. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Fire personnel extend a power cord through a window to plug it into a portable outlet box on the sidewalk below to power a fan to remove smoke from an apartment next door. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer
Published: 10/26/2021 1:22:43 PM
Modified: 10/26/2021 1:22:48 PM

ORANGE — There were no injuries Monday after smoke from a fire in the basement of R Cee’s Pub extended into the adjoining buildings, one of which includes apartments.

Orange Fire Chief James Young said his department was dispatched at 11:53 a.m. on a report of a fire, which he said was under control within minutes of firefighters’ arrival. The Fire Station is diagonal from the pub, separated by only Water Street, Memorial Park and South Main Street.

Young said the cause of the fire at 22 South Main St. is under investigation.

Power to the block was cut as a safety precaution, and firefighters could be seen using a fan to remove smoke from an apartment, extending a power cord through a window to a portable outlet box on the sidewalk below.

“The smoke spread to the adjoining buildings on each side because of the shared space, the shared walls and everything,” Young said at roughly 1:35 p.m. One of the adjoining buildings is 20 South Main St., which includes Yoga Plus Wellness Studio and a barbershop.

Jesse Matthews, who lives in a second-floor apartment in the building, was sleeping following an overnight shift at Walmart when he was awoken by a young woman shouting to alert him of a fire. He said he told the woman to call 911 and then started helping get children and pets out of the building.

“By the time I was getting the cat out, there was a cop here and we went up together to get the cat. And there was nothing but just smoke in the house,” he said. “I was choking really bad, heavily, on the smoke. It didn’t even look like there was any smoke, but I was really choking on it. I had to get a cardboard box, put the cat in the box, went outside and then the Fire Department had shown up.”

Matthews said he has lived in the building for four or five months. He and other tenants said they did not think they would be able to sleep in the building overnight and discussed calling the American Red Cross for help.

Young said there is no visual smoke damage, but there will be a lingering odor. He said tenants were being allowed into the building to gather any belongings they need.

The Orange Police Department cordoned off the affected section of South Main Street, placing barriers at the start of the street and where it meets Water Street. Firefighters responded from Orange, New Salem, Phillipston, Erving and Athol, with crew members from Athol borrowing a truck from the Royalston Fire Department due to mechanical issues with theirs. A National Grid truck was also on site.

Young said the Warwick Fire Department and Northfield EMS were covering his Water Street station.

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