By Asst. Chief Joseph Fusaro
October 24, 2022

Tuesday morning October 30, 1962 began an unusual day for the Westerly Fire Department as they would fight two fires simultaneously. the weather was calm and over night temperatures were in the mid 50's. At 5:55 am a call was received at the Westerly Fire Station by Resident Fireman Edward Greene reporting smoke from the area of Highland Ave between Park Ave and Narragansett Ave. Fireman Greene sounded the alarm for Box 3153. Upon his arrival he found the vacant house at 38 Highland Ave afire with flames spreading up the rear wall from the basement to the roof with thick black smoke billowing into the early morning sky. As firefighters stretched hose lines into position to battle the fire, the blaze consumed a good deal of the rear of the house. Eventually despite their efforts a portion of the roof collapsed. A furnace malfunction was determined as the cause of the fire.

Twenty minutes into the fight to control the Highland Ave fire, an alarm was sounded from Box 4414 at approximately 6:20 am for a house fire on the Ashaway Rd near the Meeting House Bridge. An electrical fire had spread to the contents of a bedroom and extended into the attic space. Chief Pasetti dispatched two trucks from the Highland Ave fire as well as the Ahrens Fox pumper were dispatched to this new blaze along with assistance from Pawcatuck firefighters. The fire was brought under control quickly, but not before heavy damage was done to this home. The lone occupant described several electrical issues before the fire broke out and she notified the fire department.

A busy morning saw an extended cleanup from both fires with over 4300 ft. of hose used at both fires. Unlike today. hose had tp be washed and hung in the hose tower to dry. Chief Pasetti was injured after he fell down the basement stairs and dislocated several fingers.
Two other firefighters suffered minor injuries in fighting both fires.