Mass. seeks help in wake of mill fire

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UXBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) -The Patrick administration on Sunday asked the federal government to provide financial assistance to businesses affected by a fire that engulfed a downtown mill complex in central Massachusetts.

The administration sent a letter to the Small Business Administration, requesting a disaster declaration, and the administration on Sunday began a disaster assessment to determine the scope of the damage, state officials said.

Investigators on Sunday continued looking for the cause of the eight-alarm blaze that damaged or destroyed 65 small businesses inside the 400,000 square-foot Bernat Mill complex.

“At this time there’s no red flags to indicate it’s a possible suspicious fire,” state Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said Sunday. “We haven’t had an opportunity to examine the physical evidence that may be in the building.”

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Hot spots were still being extinguished Sunday afternoon, Coan said. More than 300 firefighters, battled the fire Saturday.

The fire was reported at about 4:15 a.m. Seven firefighters were injured – mostly from smoke inhalation and exhaustion.

The mill was built in the 1820s. During World War II, it made fabric for Army uniforms. Most recently, it hosted a variety of businesses, including wood shops and art galleries.

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