The is speculating the cause of to be a discarded cigarette butt in the rear exterior of the building, according to Foxborough Fire Chief Roger Hatfield.
“We are speculating that it was a discarded cigarette into the bark mulch and the bark mulch caught fire, which in turn caught the side of the building on fire,” Hatfield said. “We didn’t find any evidence or any cigarette butts through the debris and stuff but that’s what we are leaning towards. There’s no clear evidence of the cigarette butt itself.”
Foxborough Fire received a call from personnel at 8:42 p.m. about visible smoke in the rear of the building. Hatfield said firefighters from Foxborough, Walpole, Sharon, Wrentham, Norfolk and Mansfield were able to “get the fire under control” within 30 to 45 minutes of responding to the scene.
“The quick notification that [Patriot Place] Team-Ops was able to give us of the actual fire and the fact that it was an outside fire – so we didn’t have smoke detectors and things like that ... so I think their quick ability to identify there was a problem and get us notified is what prevented that from being a lot worse situation,” Hatfield said.
The fire chief added it was a two-alarm fire because of the potential for extension.
“It ended up being an outside fire that had potential for extension up into that roof area,” Hatfield said, referring to the back of the building. “Even though behind that wooden siding is a concrete wall, there are still board spaces that allows the fire to travel from the base of the building down near the bark mulch. It traveled pretty close to 30 to 40 feet all the way up to the roof like a chimney effect.”
The only part of the fire that made its way into the actual store was “smoke conditions,” Hatfield said.
After firefighters had the fire under control, Hatfield said an investigation followed to “make sure there were no hidden fires” at other locations throughout the building.
“It was a lot of man hours and a lot of hard work done by Foxborough Fire Department and surrounding communities that came in for mutual aid,” Hatfield said.
Hatfield praised the “professionalism” of all involved in responding to the incident quickly and getting it under control.
“Whenever you look at a structure that large and there’s a fire condition, it’s overwhelming,” Hatfield said. ... “My hat goes off to every single person that was involved in the success. The Team-Ops folks, the Bass Pro folks to Foxborough Fire and all the communities that came to our assist – it’s definitely a team operation. This is a perfect example of it working well for us.”
and store manager Walter Grammer said many of the customers that were in the store at the time of the fire and had to be evacuated, returned Sunday morning to shop.