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On the night of December 11, 1995, a fire struck Malden Mills textile factory in Methuen, Massachusetts, destroying three out of ten of the factory's century-old buildings and causing $500 million dollars in damage. Seven hundred people were at work in the factory when, at a little past 8:00 p.m., a boiler exploded in one of the mill buildings. The explosion ruptured gas mains and fire quickly engulfed the buildings.
Employees fled into the streets; reports show that 33 were injured, four of them critically.
The six-alarm fire was fueled by the chemicals and flammable materials used in textile production. Over 200 firefighters battled 50-foot walls of flame. Strong, gusty winds and temperatures near zero degrees hampered the effort. The fire raged out of control for much of the night, forcing nearby residents to evacuate. By morning, the textile complex was a scene of utter devastation.
Aaron Feuerstein, the President and CEO of Malden Mills Industries, Inc., vowed to rebuild the 90-year-old business and announced that he would pay all his employees for the next 90 days and maintain full health care benefits for 180 days. Feuerstein’s generosity brought him international attention and admiration, his actions acknowledged by Bill Clinton in the State of the Union address.
25 Largest Fire Losses in U.S. History
Below table courtesy of NFPA:
Portland Fire & Rescue
We Respond: Always Ready, Always There
December 10, 2010