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Quincy Dependable Cleaners fire caused by malfunctioning equipment

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  July 17, 2012 04:07 PM

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The fire that decimated a Dependable Cleaners shop on Quincy Avenue last Saturday was accidentally caused by malfunctioning dry cleaning machinery, Quincy fire officials said Tuesday.

According to Fire Chief Joseph Barron, the machine malfunction sparked the fire at around 2:15 p.m. Saturday.

Fire officials said the blaze quickly grew out of control and was accelerated by dry cleaning chemicals and hot weather.

The roof collapsed by 5 p.m.

The four-alarm blaze sent four firefighters to the hospital. One Quincy firefighter was sent to the hospital due to heat exhaustion and another firefighter had minor hand injuries.

All 20 employees made it out of the building before the fire got out of control.

Quincy firefighters headed back to the scene of the incident on Monday morning, where they met with Quincy police, state police, and the State Fire Marshal’s office. The site was released back to the owner at around noon, Barron said.

Just days after the accident, Christa Hagearty, chief executive of Dependable Cleaners, said she definitely plans to rebuild the space.

"My first priority right now is our employees, our customers getting as close to normal operations as we can throughout our whole company. I’m also starting to work towards and figure out what we need to do to rebuild - how long it will be before we will know what will happen to the structure... those are next steps, but we absolutely will need to rebuilt and we are commited to being on that site," she said.

People can expect to see activity on the site next week with the removal of debris. Already, employees have gotten access to the building to remove any files that made it through the fire.

Insurance agents will determine if the building was a total loss or not. Barron estimated that the damage may total as much as $1 million.

Despite the damage, Hagearty said majority of the clothes have been saved and are in the process of being recleaned.

"We think few customer’s clothes will be unable to be recleaned and delivered back to them – that’s just amazing in and of itself," she said.

This isn't the first time one of Hagearty's 16 locations has caught fire.

In 1997, a facility on Wollaston caught fire and destroyed majority of the front of the store. Here, just the opposite occurred, with the fire mostly impacting the cleaning operation in the back.

Although the company has reduced capacity, Hagearty said the store has not missed a step.

"We’re working now to figure out what we can do to cincrease that capacity, running double shifts. Our employees have been amazing ... A lot of employees at the Quincy Ave location on Saturday helped to run a shift on Sunday to start cleaning some of the clothes, in order for everything to be ready on time on Monday," she said. "People [are] volunteering to do amazing things, in my mind - coming in on their days off and saying 'What do you need.' If there is a silver lining, it’s that. The employees, the whole team, and the community. Our customers have been amazing as well."

Hagearty said the staff is continuing to work through the issues, however customers can receive updates by either calling the company's hotline at 1-800-572-4068 or visiting the company's website.

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