FALL RIVER — Two women and two small children were sent to the hospital Friday after a fire at a Fall River eatery, after the women lit a fire to stay warm while making non-permitted renovations to the location.

Firefighters responded to a box alarm at around 1:30 p.m. Friday at 364 South Main Street, the location that formerly housed Boneheads. Upon arrival, they found smoke coming from a storefront. District Chief Jeffrey Bacon, who was the incident commander for the call, said that inside, firefighters encountered moderate smoke conditions.

Inside, they encountered two women working on renovations, and had two small children, a one-year-old girl and a two-year-old girl, in the kitchen with them. It appeared the women had been burning wood inside the kitchen to stay warm while working.

Investigators detected the presence of carbon monoxide at the scene. According to Bacon, a language barrier prevented him from being able to discuss the situation with the two women.

"Also, we were extremely concerned about the health and safety of the children, so we wanted to get them evaluated by EMS as quickly as possible, thus we could not wait for a translator to arrive on scene," he said. "While I cannot comment on the exact diagnosis of the children, I can tell you that the one-year-old, who was in a holder on a woman's back inside the store upon our arrival, was deemed 'unresponsive and breathing' by EMS at the scene."

The women and the children were treated at St. Anne's Hospital and released.

Bacon said the property manager informed him the store is being converted into a Dominican barbeque restaurant.

"Part of this renovation involved building a cinderblock-and-brick "barbeque" under an exisiting commercial hood system," Bacon said. "This is where the women had lit the fire to keep warm."

He said there was also evidence that a large commercial generator had been run inside the business to provide power, as the location currently does not have electrical service.

Bacon noted that the building and health departments were both unaware that work had begun at the location, as no permits had been obtained to begin the work.

He said the Department of Children and Families was also notified.

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