By Asst. Chief Joseph Fusaro
June 6, 2022

Friday June 16, 1978 was a clear night with temperatures in the high 50’s and winds were calm. Third shift roll call for Westerly Police had just ended and officers were sent to their respective beats. At 15 minutes past midnight a patrolman on the north side spotted a fire at Vic Morgan & Sons Home Center at 101 Canal St (31 Canal St today). He transmitted the alarm from fire box 4111 at Canal St and Industrial Dr. Arriving Westerly firefighters were met with a well advanced fire coming through the roof of the 1 story cement block structure. The primary attack was initiated by Engine 3 while Engines 1 and 2 took hydrants at Canal St near the old Miceli Furniture and near the Moore Co. The building was set back from the street making access not possible for Ladder 1. Since the hydrants were on the main line leading from the White Rock wells, water pressure and volume were not a problem. Multiple 2 ½ inch hose lines were stretched and placed into operation. Over 1400 feet of 2 ½ inch hose was used. The roof structure collapsed into the building making entry too dangerous. Chief Robert Mackay decided on an exterior attack. It took almost three hours to bring the fire under control. Due to the significant collapse it was not possible to reach all the hot spots and an engine would be sent back to hit hotspots later. The cause of the fire was investigated by the State Fire Marshal and Westerly Police. The loss of the building and its contents was estimated at $75,000.