Monday, February 4, 2008

Fire At Prominent Narragansett Indian Home

The Providence Journal
reported yesterday that flames destroyed the 1880 Charleston home where Russell G. Spears, 90, and his late wife, Grace, raised 12 children. Spears is the patriarch of a prominent Narragansett Indian family, many known for their skill as stone masons.

Spears, his daughter Sky Lark Spears, and her friend, Robert Bernard, escaped. Spears was under observation in the intensive care unit at Westerly Hospital. Family members said yesterday he has high blood pressure, but that they expected him to be released soon.

The Charlestown fire heavily damaged a home that held many memories for the Spears family and fellow members of the Narragansett Indian tribe. Firefighters were called to 19 Kings Factory Rd. around midnight Wednesday to a chimney fire in the wood-frame home. Flames on the first floor quickly spread into the walls of the two-story structure.

About 35 firefighters fought the blaze, using tankers filled with water from a pond in Ninigret Park, and 2 were injured. The fire was linked to a chimney that was connected to two working wood stoves, said Lt. Patrick J. McMahon.

A stream of friends and family visited the site, remembering climbing the apple tree, bathing in a nearby brook and being regaled by Ellison “Tarzan” Brown, the legendary Narragansett who twice won the Boston Marathon and competed in the 1936 Olympics in Germany.

—Providence Journal, compiled from reports by staff writers Rich Salit, Maria Armental and staff writer Brandie Jefferson.