Two Firefighters Injured In Mass. Apartment Building Blaze

Leominster, MA — Two firefighters were injured when a wall collapsed on them as they battled a six-alarm fire, officials said.

The fire began around 10 pm Saturday at the old Columbia Hotel, located at 65 Main Street. The building currently has 20 apartments on its upper levels and businesses — including an arts center, a tavern, and the Leominster office of the Fitchburg-based Sentinel & Enterprise newspaper — on the lower levels.

The firefighters were in a bucket on a ladder truck when the wall collapsed, Leominster Fire Chief Robert Sidleau said. They were transported to the Health Alliance Hospital and medics said they appeared to be OK.

All of the residents made it out of the building safely without injury, Sidleau said.

Leominster fire officials called in mutual aid from more than a dozen surrounding cities and towns, including Shirley and Fitchurg, Sidleau said. Firefighters worked into Sunday trying to get the blaze under control.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The Columbia Hotel opened in 1892 to serve travelers at an adjacent train depot. Sidleau said the fire was the biggest he had seen in his 31 years with the department. He also said the building was a cornerstone of the community.

“It’s the historic Columbia Hotel,” he said. “It’s going to be devastating.”

The fire is just one more major incident in Massachusetts this weekend. A gas explosion leveled a strip club in downtown Springfield. Several people, including firefighters, were injured. Officials said the cause of the explosion was “human error,” the result of a utility worker accidentally puncturing a pipe.