From sweet shops to neighborhood taverns and cafes near today's fire, workers and residents described how a mundane sunny day quickly turned chaotic. Here are some of their reactions:
Amid the fire frenzy, the goodies kept on coming at Sweet, a bakery on Massachusetts Avenue that features such delights as creamy Madagascar vanilla bean cake
with buttercream frosting. Customers stood outside to watch firefighters battle the blaze, said Nick Peruzzi, the general manager.
"I think that they were all quite interested to see how everything played out," Peruzzi said. "There were a lot of people waiting outside, just kind of hoping that it would clear up."
Peruzzi said the fire appeared to escalate quickly.
"All of a sudden there were a couple feet of flames coming out of a seventh-story window, right about in the middle of the building," he said. "It was kind of dramatic at first, actually. It's a pretty quiet neighborhood, and to have something like that-- it was really shocking."
Store employees brought water to weary firefighters, he said.
Katherine Moore, a waitress at Cafe 47 at 47 Massachusetts Ave., said she could see the fire from the front of the restaurant.
“When I first looked there were actually flames billowing out of the windows and tons of black smoke,” Moore said. “Some of our customers sitting outside ended up with soot in their water. It’s a really bad fire – the worst fire I’ve ever seen.”
Moore also witnessed a person talking on a cell phone on the top floor toward the back of the building, and about 10 minutes later, smoke was also coming out of the person’s windows, she said. Firefighters came to the person’s aid, and Moore soon saw personnel doing CPR on the person on TV.
Adam, who works at the Corner Tavern on Marlborough Street and lives nearby, said he was doing his laundry when the fire started.
"At first I didn't think much of it," he said. "After I put my clothes in the washer, I came back out, and there were all these trucks here. It's just kind of crazy."
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