BOSTON (CBS) – The Orient Heights neighborhood in East Boston was evacuated as firefighters battled a blaze at the New England Casket Company on Bennington Street.
The massive fire reached nine alarms and the Boston Fire Department cited heavy smoke as a reason for the evacuation. Residents were allowed to return to their homes about seven hours after the fire started.
The fire, which broke out Friday afternoon, started in the roof of the two-story building in East Boston. Boston Fire Commissioner Joe Finn said the building does have a sprinkler system, but the fire was above it.
Firefighters first attempted to fight the fire from inside the building, but got out due to collapse fears. Crews used ladder trucks for hours to pour water and foam on the flames.
WBZ-TV’s Mike LaCrosse reports
Finn said the building, which is a total loss, contains a lot of wood products, as well as chemicals such as lacquers and thinners. The building will likely be demolished on Saturday.
All of the workers were able to escape. Two police officers and two firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation and a Chelsea firefighter suffered a leg injury. All of the injuries were minor.
For Mayor Marty Walsh, this marks a first. “This is, for me, the biggest fire that I’ve seen as mayor of the city,” Walsh said.
Firefighters used the Blue Line’s tracks to fight the fire. So MBTA service was suspended in the area.
The New England Casket Company has been a family-owned business for generations, moving to its present location after World War II.