A fire at a dry cleaners in Quincy Saturday afternoon burned so fiercely at one point that firefighters were pulled out of the building when the roof was in danger of collapsing.
The four-alarm fire gutted the family-owned Dependable Cleaners on Quincy Avenue, sending four firefighters to the hospital with minor injuries.
The high temperatures outside — into the 90s — added to the stress of battling the blaze for the 50 firefighters who responded to the scene.
“It’s the hardest time to fight a fire,” said Quincy Fire Captain Steven Baylis. “You’ve got to worry about heat stroke, about getting dehydrated, getting injured.”
Baylis said he struck a fourth alarm to bring in reinforcements specifically because of the heat. Members of a fire buff club, the Boston Sparks Association, arrived and set up a tent where they handed out water, food, and cold, wet towels for overheated firefighters to drape over their heads.
The fire started about 2:15 and grew quickly, accelerated by the dry-cleaning chemicals, Baylis said. Firefighters were inside the building for less than a minute before being removed, he added.
The roof eventually did collapse, but by 5 p.m., the fire was mostly out, with firefighters still pouring water through the roof as acrid smoke billowed up.
The cause of the blaze was under investigation, fire officials at the scene said.
Two Quincy firefighters were taken to Quincy Medical Center with heat exhaustion and another Quincy firefighter and one Boston firefighter were treated for minor hand injuries, said Chris Grazioso, field supervisor for Fallon Ambulance.
Christa Hagearty, chief executive of Dependable Cleaners, said workers inside the building when the blaze began saw fire near one of the cleaning machines.
There were about 20 workers in the building, she said, and all got out safely.
Hagearty said the building is probably a total loss.
She said her grandparents started the business in 1944. Her office was full of old family pictures, and drawings that her children had made for her over the years, she said.
“The building can be replaced, the records we’ll recreate,” Hagearty said. “It’s the memories, right? It’s the physical, emotional memories — those things.”Evan Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.