A foundation, trying for more than a decade to raise enough money to create a memorial to six Worcester firefighters killed in a warehouse fire, has been losing money for years and may abandon the project altogether if the trend continues, the Worcester Telegram reported today.
The nonprofit Worcester Fire Fighters Memorial, Inc. began fundraising for the memorial shortly after six firefighters died in 1999 in a fire that broke out in the abandoned Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. building.
Authorities have said the fire was started accidentally after two homeless people, who were illegally living in the building, knocked over a candle.
The foundation has raised more than $1.6 million since 2000, the Telegram reported, citing the organization’s tax returns. Nearly half of that total was raised in the first year.
But, the organization has spent more than $1.45 million since then, primarily on legal and consulting expenses, including to try to sort out wetland issues related to the project. The nonprofit lost $860,501 altogether between 2002 and 2012, reporting a deficit in all but one of those years, according to the Telegram.
The most recent available tax return showed the organization had just over $115,000 in net assets.
Michael C. Moschos, a lawyer for the foundation, told the Telegram that the organization is hopeful it can rebound.
But, he said, if the foundation cannot, within the next two years, raise the $825,000 it wants to build the memorial, it may shut down the organization and distribute any remaining funds to other charities.
The foundation has also shrunk its design of the memorial, which would be built in a nearby park and would consist of a poured concrete oval surrounded by six stone columns — one for each of the fallen firefighters — that would lean toward each, the Telegram reported.
A smaller memorial to the firefighters already exists. The city installed it in front of a new fire station where the warehouse used to be.