By John Lynds
A massive inferno broke out Friday evening on Chelsea Street that destroyed two homes and damaged the 113-year-old famed East Boston pizzeria, Santarpio’s Pizza.
The call came in Friday just before 7:30 p.m. for a fire at 107-109 Chelsea St., an attached building with two, three family homes on either side. Upon arrival, the Boston Fire Department observed heavy fire that had engulfed the rear porches of the building.
The fire quickly spread throughout the building and threatened nearby buildings and businesses, including Santarpio’s.
The inferno quickly became an emergency situation as dry conditions and high winds forced the evacuation of Santarpio’s during one of its busiest nights of the week as well as nearby homes and businesses.
The fire was elevated to a five-alarm blaze as it tore through the two building and melted the siding on the side and rear of Santarpio’s.
Boston Fire Commissioner and Chief Joseph Finn said the fire caused an estimated $600,000 of damage to 107-109 Chelsea Street, $50,000 worth of damage to Santarpio’s, $50,000 to 105 Chelsea St. and $30,000 worth of damage to 103 Chelsea St.
“We were lucky,” said Dave Modica, husband of Santarpio owner, Carla Santarpio. “We had some damage to the siding and some water and smoke damage as well. The crews that worked on the fire did an unbelievable job containing the fire.”
Modica said clean up crews and contractors worked all through Saturday after getting the all clear from Boston Inspectional Services.
“We were back open Saturday,” said Modica.
There were no civilian injuries and one firefighter was transported to an area hospital to get checked out and was later released.
According to the Boston Fire Department, there were six apartments at 107-109 Chelsea St. but two were vacant. The other four apartments housed 9 adults and 3 children who were all displaced by the fire. They are being helped by the American Red Cross and City of Boston.
Chief Finn said fire investigators were determining the cause and point of origin for the fire.
“In East Boston Friday night, rapid additional alarms were ordered to contain the fire then extinguish it,” said Chief Finn. “Solid work by all. In two days (we had) two multiple alarm fire (in) two tightly congested neighborhoods with zero civilian injuries. This was great work by Boston’s firefighters. Their professionalism stands out. The key to successfully fighting the fires of the past two days were the Fire Alarm Operations Dispatchers, they are always calm and competent.”
Chief Finn also thanked Mayor Marty Walsh.
“The last two days are a perfect example of why fully staffed and highly trained fire departments are needed,” said Chief Finn. “Thanks Mayor Walsh.”
A photo of the 5-alarm blaze that broke out on Chelsea Street Friday. The fire threatened the famed Santarpio’s Pizza (foreground) and other structures and businesses.
Boston Fire Commissioner and Chief Joseph Finn briefs the media outside the fire.
Boston Fire Commissioner and Chief Joseph Finn and Boston Firefighters Local 718 President Rich Paris survey the damage to the back of Santarpio’s Pizza.
The intense fire melted siding on the side and back of Santarpio’s Pizza. Santarpio’s reopened Saturday but suffered $50,000 worth of damage that included smoke and water damage.