Updated Nov. 30 at 1:55 a.m.
A fire broke out on the roof of the Textron Tower at 40 Westminster St. Sunday morning in a heating or air conditioning unit, said Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré.
Though the fire started in the unit, “we don’t know what caused the fire. We’re looking into that,” Paré said, adding that it’s been “a while” since there has been a large fire in downtown Providence.
The building serves as the headquarters for Textron, an industrial conglomerate known for aerospace manufacturing. The Textron Tower is the fifth-tallest building in Providence at 311 feet and 25 stories.
The fire department started receiving alerts from fire alarms in the building at about 10:30 a.m., Paré said.
Between 50 and 60 firefighters arrived on the scene and were able to contain the fire within 15 minutes, he said. There were 16 firefighters on the roof and “several” companies of four firefighters each on the 23rd floor, he added.
Paré and Mayor Jorge Elorza watched the firefighters work from a building nearby.
“I like to be hands-on. I like to be on the scene,” Elorza said.
“You could tell as they contained the fire, the heavy, thick black smoke turned to lighter and lighter smoke,” Elorza said, adding that the firefighters “did an excellent job.”
Only security officers were in the building because it was a Sunday, said Dave Sylvestre, executive director of corporate communications for Textron.
Paré said there were no injuries.
“Thankfully (the fire) was up on the roof, and it did not penetrate into the building,” he said. “You don’t want it to penetrate into the building because then it causes a lot of damage.”
The cause of the fire had not been identified by Sunday afternoon.
“Our primary goal is to knock the fire down and then figure out the cause,” Paré said.
At least one member of the arson squad arrived on the scene at about 11:15 a.m. “They’re always here when we have a large fire like this just to begin the review of the cause of fire,” Paré said.
Paré said he is also monitoring the amount of water damage caused by putting the fire out. “We’re concerned with the amount of water and where the drains for that water will go. … It appears that the water has not penetrated into the building, but we’re monitoring that right now.”
Sylvestre said Monday will be “business as usual” as far as he can tell, adding that he thinks the damage is limited to the rooftop and potentially some offices on the top floors.