Tuesday, December 4, 2012 Westminster (MA) Fire Department officers and firefighters were "operating within the scope of their training" when a wall collapsed at the Columbia Hotel building fire in Leominster, injuring two firefighters, according to the department's report on the incident. See the report on the link below. Among the findings of the report on the Nov. 24 fire, released Monday and signed by Fire Chief Brenton MacAloney: * The end of the building where Westminster Ladder/Tower truck was fighting the blaze had a hip roof, where the rest of the building had a flat roof. "This was not known at the time of the fire by those that participated in this review." * Under the hip roof was a ballroom on the third floor with no internal walls connecting the outside wall that collapsed. * As the fire progressed from where it originally started toward the ballroom, the side of the hip roof closest to the fire collapsed, leaving the three remaining roof sections standing, * With no internal walls to support the exterior wall and the weight of the roof on an angle, the brick exterior wall from the ceiling of the second floor to the roof line fell, hitting Westminster's Ladder/Tower, and injuring two Westminster firefighters working in the truck's bucket. The truck was also damaged. * The heavy duty design of the Ladder/Tower contributed to the safety of the firefighters as the ladder and bucket did not fail with the impact of both the wall and roof. * Protective equipment worn by the firefighters also prevented their injuries from being more severe. The five-alarm blaze heavily damaged the historic Columbia Hotel building in downtown Leominster, displacing 33 residents and nine businesses.
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