Three-alarm blaze causes $1 million in damage to Mattapan building

Firefighters poured foam on the building.
Boston Fire Department
Firefighters poured foam on the building.

A three-alarm fire inside a commercial laundry building in Mattapan early Tuesday caused $1 million in damages and was brought under control without any injuries, according to the Boston Fire Department.

Firefighters first responded to the building, located at the intersection of Blue Hill and Woodrow avenues, around 4:42 a.m., Boston fire spokesman Steve MacDonald said.

“Smoke showing on arrival,’’ the fire department tweeted.


The building was described as a single-story cinder-block structure with no windows, which made entry and firefighting challenging and dangerous for crews on scene, MacDonald said.

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“The building was locked up at the time and there’s no windows, so the firefighters had to break in to enter it,” he said. “There was a fire in the middle of the building, so we had to use a metal cutting saw to open up the garage doors.”

Firefighters did not enter the building immediately, but instead battled the fire from the exterior, MacDonald said.

“The fact it had no windows just made it a very dangerous building to put firefighters into,” he said. “We fought it from the outside.”

Ladders were raised to the roof, and firefighters climbed up to inspect the structure, but were quickly called down when the metal-trussed structure started to warp.


“They noticed it starting to sag so they immediately got off,” MacDonald said. “The fire was affecting the structural integrity of the roof, so we pulled everyone off.”

While firefighters couldn’t enter the building or attack the blaze from above, crews used the traditional tool — water — as well as “large volumes” of fire suppressant foam to knock down the fire, MacDonald said.

The department, which is undergoing an upgrade in its equipment, now has foam-generating machines on newly arrived fire engines, the department said.

“It’s good because it helps to work its way through the fire and it helps extinguish it,” MacDonald said.

He said crews remained on scene “for a couple hours” Tuesday morning before the blaze was extinguished.


The affected building houses multiple business, including an auto body shop, but the fire started and was concentrated in the portion that houses a commercial laundry.

“The fire was at a business that was a very large industrial laundry,” MacDonald said. “You had these large washers that stood about 10 feet tall and a lot of machinery” in addition to propane tanks and welding torches at the auto body shop. Fortunately, he said, none of that equipment caught fire in the blaze.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Sean Smyth can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @smythsays.