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Fire burns historic Boston racetrack building as firefighters struggle to get water

Crews with the Boston Fire Department and nearby departments used thousands of feet of hoses to pump water to the Suffolk Downs scene


Photo/Boston Fire Department

Will Katcher

BOSTON — A heavy fire burned at Boston’s historic Suffolk Downs horse racing track Monday night, blazing through part of the facility’s main building just a week after a groundbreaking ceremony for a redevelopment of the property.

With a sufficient water supply lacking in the area, fire crews used thousands of feet of hoses to pump enough water to the burning grandstand building to extinguish the flames, the Boston Fire Department said.

The fire on the grandstand’s roof had progressed to a four-alarm blaze by 11 p.m., with smoke billowing from the building’s windows, the video posted to the department’s social media pages showed.

A fifth alarm was ordered less than 15 minutes later. With limited water in the area, fire officials said they began relay pumping water.

“We had a very difficult time with water,” Boston Fire Commissioner Jack Demspey told WCVB. “It’s very limited here. We had a lot of help to get lines run thousands of feet.”

Less than a week prior, a groundbreaking was held at the site, which is expected to house 10,000 apartments and condos alongside commercial buildings, the network said.

On Monday night, as the fire burnt through the roof of the building around 11:30 p.m., firefighters deployed a drone to spot flames from above.

The flames burned for several hours into Tuesday morning. Around 1:15 a.m., the fire department said firefighters were packing up the thousands of feet of hoses used to pump water into the areas.

Firefighters were able to quickly put out the flames once they established a steady supply of water, WCVB reported.

Crews remained at the facility overnight to monitor for hot spots.


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