Firefighters run thousands of feet of hose to battle 6-alarm Suffolk Downs blaze

Water supply in the area around the former racing complex was limited, officials said.

Boston Fire Department via Twitter

Fire crews used thousands of feet of water hose to battle a six-alarm blaze in the former grandstand at the Suffolk Downs racetrack in East Boston late Monday night.

The fire broke out after 10 p.m., with a fifth alarm ordered just after 11 p.m. and a sixth by 12 a.m. Tuesday, according to tweets posted by the Boston Fire Department.

With limited water supply in the area, firefighters had to relay pump to get water to the structure — a maneuver that required thousands of feet of hose, officials said.

Firefighters were eventually ordered off of the roof before flames punctured through it. Crews used multiple tower ladders to attack the blaze, as well as a drone that uses thermal imaging to show where flames burned the strongest, according to the department.

“The drone is a great tool. We get a bird’s eye view of the whole building,” Boston Fire Commissioner Jack Dempsey told WBZ-TV. “It has thermal imaging so we can see fire traveling in the roof, underneath the roof, so we can see if it’s spreading further down the building or not. We can really isolate where we’re targeting with the help of the drone.”


Heavy fire was knocked down by 1:21 a.m. Tuesday, according to officials.

The cause of the fire was not clear as of later Tuesday morning.

Suffolk Downs saw its last horserace in 2019. Developers are now working to transform the massive property into housing, offices, labs, and shops, with 40 acres of open space.

Boston officials signed off on the first phase of the expected 20-year-long project in 2020.

Last year, HYM Investment Group, the real estate development firm behind the redevelopment, opened the former racing grounds to the general public.

“The Track at Suffolk Downs,” open from dawn until dusk, allows the public to use a mile-long loop for exercise, running, and dog walking.


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