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Fire Threatens One Of Boston's Oldest Grocery Stores

A four-alarm fire on Thursday heavily damaged one of Boston's oldest grocery stores. The fire started at 10:30 a.m. in the basement of Deluca's Market, bringing Boston firefighters to Charles Street in Beacon Hill.

Amid fallen fruit and debris, a Boston firefighter stands in front of Deluca's Market Thursday. (Sonari Glinton for WBUR)
Amid fallen fruit and debris, a Boston firefighter stands in front of Deluca's Market Thursday. (Sonari Glinton for WBUR)

Firefighters had the difficult job of fighting the blaze in the basement with only one narrow stairway leading down. Firefighters eventually had to evacuate the building and punch holes in the floor to control the fire among the wooden crates, wooden floor and wooden beams in the basement.

Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald says high temperatures and the age of the store made fighting this fire particularly dangerous.

"You know, these old Beacon Hill townhouses, very old, all the wood in them and fire's in the wall," he said. "It's very hard conditions to fight this fire."

Extra EMTs were on hand to deal with firefighters who were affected by the hot weather. The department set up a tent with ice and misters to cool off firefighters and they took shifts working around the smoldering store. Local business also pitched in by offering beverages and food to exhausted firefighters.

MacDonald says a structural survey and investigation are necessary to determine the cause of the fire and whether the more-than-century-old building can be saved.

Deluca's Market has been serving customers on Beacon Hill in some shape or form since 1905. Among the famous customers: North Pole explorer Adm. Richard E. Byrd, President John F. Kennedy and historian Samuel Elliot Morison, according to the store's website.

This program aired on July 8, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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