40th Anniversary of The City on FIre

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Boston Fire Department’s “busiest night” on June 11, 1982.

On that night in Boston, thirty fires and four major blazes broke out across the city, straining the fire department and keeping them on the go the entire evening. Arson teams investigated a nine-alarm inferno and three other multiple alarm fires that broke out within three hours, causing around three hundred firefighters to jump into action and race from fire to fire. BFD had to call in nearby departments to assist with the fires because of how many there were.

Firemen on the scene reported believing the cause of the fires was arson, which at this time was becoming a serious issue in Boston. However, the official cause of the fires is unknown.

These tenacious fires also occurred after Boston’s firefighting force had been crippled by large layoffs and station closings due to a tax-cutting proposition that had been installed 18 months earlier. This added to the disastrous and taxing effect the fires had on the city. By the end of the night, weary firefighters had responded to 133 calls, 36 of them false alarms. Luckily, there were no major injuries, however, there was about $700,000 worth of damage, which would be about $1.8 million today.

Acting City Fire Chief, at the time, John Clasby claimed that it was the worst night he had ever seen in his thirty-one years with the department and the legacy of that night still lives on today.