Major fire fought for six hours, two arrests made on-scene

Mar 4, 2021

A large structure fire at 2843 Cranberry Highway closed the west bypass at the division of Rte. 6 and Rte. 28 for much of Thursday night. The building is located next door to the Elks Club.

The building, known as “the old electric building,” currently houses Brian’s Auto repair shop in the basement along with other industrial space. 

The building caught fire at about 6 p.m., and the blaze was battled by 52 firefighters.

The three-alarm fire appeared to have spread throughout the building, as firefighters from six different districts and towns and the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services helped subdue the blaze from at least three angles. As the fire spread, firefighters fought back from above, aiming hoses at the roof from extended ladders.

The intersection of Cranberry Highway and Sandwich Road was closed, except to allow people to turn onto Sandwich Road from Cranberry Highway. There was no access to Cranberry Highway from Sandwich Road. Surrounding roads were snarled with traffic for hours.

Firefighters were active on the scene until about 12:40 a.m., at which point all crews were able to leave the scene except for one engine company that stayed for several more hours for a fire watch.

No firefighters were injured.

Two arrests were made at the scene while the fire raged.

According to police:

At about 6 p.m., officers had shut down a section of Cranberry Highway to allow firefighters to run hoses from a fire hydrant to the scene. 

A car came speeding toward the fire. Lt. Walter Correia attempted to stop the car, but had to run to the side of the road to avoid being hit. Officer Christopher Smith also unsuccessfully tried to stop the car, which proceeded to swerve around two police cars before pulling into the parking lot of the burning building at a high speed and nearly striking Officer Joseph Cardoza.

The driver, identified as Christopher Ferland, 21, of East Wareham, got out of the car and ran toward the building as Cardoza yelled at him to stop.

According to Smith, Ferland was “shouting that he needed to get his car out of the building.”

Ferland was attempting to unlock the door to the burning building before being pulled back by Cardoza.

Ferland was charged with disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and failure to stop for a police officer.

At 8:30 p.m., as firefighters continued to battle the blazing fire, another vehicle broke through a barricade on Cranberry Highway before driving over several fire hoses. 

Smith stopped the vehicle, and observed that the driver, Ronald G. Laplante, Jr., 41, of Bourne, appeared to be impaired. Laplante, who had just left the Fan Club, told officers that he had two draft beers. Laplante failed a field sobriety test and blew a reading of .174 percent and .16 percent on a breathalyzer. 

Laplante was charged with operating under the influence of liquor, negligent operation of a motor, and driving over a fire hose. His driver’s license was suspended.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Wareham Fire Department and State Fire Marshal.