A fire that destroyed the sprawling Kerr Mill Complex,...

FALL RIVER, Mass. -- A fire that destroyed the sprawling Kerr Mill Complex, causing $50 million in damage and displacing 700 workers, was caused by a faulty boiler, state officials said Monday.

A 14-week probe by a special state fire marshal's office task force showed a spark cast off by a boiler ignited a first-floor ceiling in one of the mill's three buildings, with the blaze quickly spreading throughout the complex, officials said.


Investigators said they interviewed about 100 people before ruling out arson as the fire's cause.

The Jan. 12 blaze forced the evacuation of residents in a one-mile radius around the complex that housed 11 light industrial concerns in three six-story buildings.

The fire, fanned by high winds and intensified by oil soaked into the building's floors during decades of use, shot out a column of flames more than 200 feet tall and closed nearby Route 195.

More than $10 million in local, state and federal aid was secured to help the city recover from the economic blow.

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