By Asst. Chief Joseph Fusaro
April 15, 2022

On Monday April 6, 1964, a fire was reported at 144 Granite St. Box 1253 was sounded by Henry Sieczkiewicz, a member of the Cyclone Steam Fire Engine Co.# 2 and neighbor who spotted the flames and smoke and summoned the fire department. as well as phone reports made by others to the Westerly Fire Station at 12:40 pm. Five pieces of apparatus responded. Prior to the arrival of firefighters, the daughter of the occupant arrived and reported her father, 91-year-old Eugenio Cercena, was still inside. Neighbors and passersby entered the house through the side door as the front was a mass of flames. The heat was so intense it melted aluminum windows , the telephone and other objects. Mr. Cercena was located at the foot of the cellar stairs. He was removed and taken by the Westerly Ambulance Corps to the Westerly Hospital where he died the next day. 40 firefighters were able to bring the fire under control in about 35 minutes. Aside from the heat they also had to contend with a power line that had burned off from the house. A Narragansett Electric crew secured the power after being summoned to the scene.

Chief Pasetti reported most for the fire damage was confined to both floors in the front of the 2 ½ -story house while the rear of the house suffered smoke and heat damage. The cause of death was reported to be a heart attack caused by the fire. Chief Pasetti listed the probable cause of the fire as falling asleep while smoking. For firefighters the loss of life is always especially hard no matter it be an adult life or a child's life. Today, this is the present site of the Auto Zone.