The new Roll-Land Roller Skating Rink now under construction on Route 1 near Dean Street was threatened with total destruction by a spectacular flash fire last Saturday afternoon when the entire 250-foot long roof, newly tarred, burst into flame. The fire is believed to have been caused by a spark from a welder’s torch.
Within moments the roof was ablaze and huge billows of black acrid smoke were rising 50 feet in the air, even before the first alarm was sounded.
Acting Capt. John Howard of the Fire Department, on reaching the scene on the sounding of the alarm at 1:35 p.m., immediately ordered a recall alarm sounded, summoning all off-duty firemen to the scene, and also asked aid from Walpole and Westwood. Fire Chief Harry Butler who lives nearby and Deputy Chief Irving Dobson also responded.
As the Norwood and Westwood firemen battled the smoky blaze, the Walpole firefighters filled in at the Norwood fire station.
The fire was fanned by a stiff breeze that sent the smoke billowing up the Dean Street hill and enveloped the homes in that area.
Firemen said that welders were working on Saturday to hasten the completion of the new building and that a spark ignited the tar. Workmen threw water on the flaming tar but were unable to stop the advance of the fire. The new building is due for completion and a grand opening has been set for September 1st, the Santoro Brothers, owners of the new Roll-Land, said. They expect that the fire will cause no appreciable delay in the construction. The only loss from the fire was the tar and tar paper spread on the roof and the unofficial estimate of the loss was placed at between two and three thousand dollars.
It was last March 1, that the old Roll-Land Skating Rink was completely destroyed in an early morning fire that caused $75,000 damage. Plans to rebuild the rink were started the next day, and the new building threatened by the fire last Saturday is said to be about half constructed. Hundreds of cars traveling along Route 1 viewed the blaze and saw the firemen fighting the fire from aerial ladders. Extra police were sent to the scene and kept traffic lanes on Route 1 open. There was no traffic tie-up due to the fire. Firemen stayed at the scene until 5:00 p.m. removing the charred tar paper from the roof and pumping out the flooded foundation.
JOHN D. McLAUGHLIN
(All articles were originally published in the Norwood Messenger unless otherwise noted)
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