On March 15, 2019, Boston Fire Department responded to a 9-Alarm Fire in East Boston at Box 6243 for the New England Casket Factory.
The New England Casket Co. on Bennington Street, founded decades ago by an Italian cabinet maker in East Boston, was destroyed in a massive fire Friday afternoon. BFD arrived on scene only to find that the smoke laced with chemicals in the air would force them to evacuate parts of the Orient Heights neighborhood.
The nine alarm fire broke out from the casket company at approximately 15:30 hours, drawing about 200 firefighters from different communities including Boston, Chelsea and Winthrop.
At 17:30 hours an eighth alarm was ordered due to a water supply issue. About 45 minutes later, a ninth alarm was ordered. Even after dozens of fire trucks lined the street there still seemed to be an issue with the water pressure where at one point, firefighters were ordered out of the building out of concern for their safety.
Another issue responders faced were the chemicals from the stains and varnishes used to coat the now burned caskets that further contaminated the layer smoke coating the neighborhood. Concerned over the heavy smoke and air quality prompted the evacuation of several streets in Orient Heights.
According to Fire Commissioner Joe Finn, the fire caused “millions and millions” worth of damages” and after more that eight hours battling the blaze at least five people were injured.
Including two Boston police officers for smoke inhalation, two Boston firefighters were treated for exhaustion, and one Chelsea firefighter that suffered a leg injury. Residents where allowed to come back to the neighborhood at around 22:30 hours.
Governor Charlie Baker said on Twitter that he is “grateful for the incredible bravery and hard work of our first responders battling the fire in East Boston.”