Fall River, MA had a 3-alarm fire today and it brought back some memories of the big mill fires in Fall River and New Bedford that I witnessed while growing up in Somerset, MA (across the Taunton River South Watuppa Pond from Fall River). Here are some scans of Kodachrome slides that my dad (Michael F. James) took of the Kerr Mill fire in January, 1987.
I remember standing near the Route 6 signs watching this fire with my dad. I was 14. The big mill fires tended to draw a huge crowd of onlookers from Fall River and Somerset, and of course a huge assortment of apparatus and firefighters. You’ll spot the Civil Defense Rescue 1 squad in the one shot. The flames and smoke were so bright and high that they blotted out the sky and landscape along the Taunton River behind the mill.
The mill fires were fought defensively (surround and drown) and firefighters worked hard to protect any surrounding exposures. These fires were huge and impressive, garnered headlines in the next day’s Fall River Herald News and were the talk of the town for days after.