BOSTON (CBS) – Demolition of an East Boston factory started Saturday, just one day after a massive blaze destroyed New England Casket Company. The Boston Fire Department said the building is “just a shell completely gutted” by flames.
The massive fire that started Friday afternoon reached nine alarms and prompted evacuation orders for people who live in the area due to heavy smoke. Residents were allowed to return to their homes about seven hours after the fire started.
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.
“This is, for me, the biggest fire that I’ve seen as mayor of the city,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said.
The Bennington Street building is a total loss.
“The building is completely compromised,” said Boston Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn.
Friday night, the Boston Fire Department tweeted a photo showing flames shooting out the front door of the building. For comparison, the department tweeted the same angle a day later, with a view of the gutted building through where the front door used to be.
“We saw black smoke coming up,” said one resident.
“I couldn’t believe how bad it is. It’s a shock and sad,” said another resident.
Rina Galdamc was working inside at the time of the fire. On Saturday, she returned to get her car which was damaged.
“God bless – everyone is okay,” Galdamc said. “The owner is very nice. I worked for a lot of years there. This is everything.”
Lou Tobia, Jr. owner of New England Casket Company, was at the scene of the fire Saturday morning. The family-owned business moved to its present location after World War II.
Although an official cause has not been determined yet, Tobia said the fire started in a furnace that heats the room where caskets dry. He said the flames began above the facility’s sprinkler room, which is why it was able to spread without being doused.
Because of the firefighting efforts, the Orient Heights Blue Line station tracks are underwater. The MBTA is bringing in crews to drain water from the station and train yards.
Once the water is drained, the track, power, signals and switches will be evaluated.
Shuttle buses will replace strains between Airport and Wonderland stations until further notice.