Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff
A smoky four-alarm blaze broke out this morning in a landmark market on Charles Street, disrupting a quiet summer day in the quaint, historic Beacon Hill neighborhood.
Firefighters poured water into the building housing DeLuca's Market, as black smoke billowed out. Citrus fruit and melons spilled onto the sidewalk at the front of the building.
The fire, which was reported at 10:37 a.m., was battled by a total of 75 firefighters, said Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald. No injuries have been reported.
Firefighters found it difficult to extinguish the blaze in the basement, where cardboard boxes, liquor, and produce caught fire, MacDonald said. They poured water into the basement from the outside until sometime after noon, when they were finally able to gain entry.
MacDonald said that there was smoke in every apartment above the store and "the reality is that people will be displaced for months, not weeks."
Dozens of residents, tourists, and bystanders gathered, some pulling out their cameras to take pictures.
At least nine fire trucks and two ambulances were on the scene and the street was blocked off.
Andrew Zarins, a 17-year-old high school student who has been working in the produce department at the store, said he started at 7 a.m. today and there were electrical problems when he showed up, with the lights not turning on at first.
Sometime around 10:30, he said, he was working in the basement when something went wrong.
"I heard popping and I saw -- I wouldn't say a ball of fire … a big flash of orange light and I couldn't really describe it."
He went upstairs and some of the store lights were flashing and some of the other workers didn't know what was going on.
He told them about the popping noise and an off-duty firefighter from out of state who had been shopping in the store warned people not to go into the basement, helped to evacuate everyone, and wouldn't leave the scene until he was sure everyone was out safely.
Gina Godet, 35, was in her third-floor apartment at adjoining 66 Beacon St., when her cat, Calypso, began acting oddly.
"She was running all over like crazy. I've never seen her like that," she said.
Godet had been sleeping. "I put my head out the window and they said, 'Get out,'" she said. So she grabbed Calypso and her computer and hurried down the stairs.
As the fire grew in intensity this morning, she sat in the traffic island at Beacon and Charles and watched firefighters at work, while Calypso scurried around in a cat carrier and fellow onlookers came to admire the cat.
DeLuca's has been operating in the same location for more than a century, according to its website. Its list of notable everyday customers have included explorer Admiral Richard E. Byrd, John F. Kennedy, and historian Samuel Elliot Morison, the store says.
Michael Levenson of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff
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