A six alarm blaze late Monday night tore through a portion of the former Suffolk Downs racetrack’s historic grandstand.
According to the Boston Fire Department the blaze began at just before 11 p.m. when a fire erupted inside the grandstand’s old press box. The track was open earlier in the day for simulcasting but no one was in the building at the time of the fire.
On arrival firefighters reported fire in the roof area and heavy smoke throughout the building.
Crews raced to contain the fire and save the racetrack’s iconic grandstand that was built in the 1930s.
A fourth and fifth alarm were quickly ordered due to limited water supply on site and Boston Fire brought in relay pumping equipment to supply water to the fire.
An hour into the fire all firefighters were ordered off the roof and used multiple ladder pipes and towers to attack the fire from above.
Boston Fire Commissioner Jack Dempsey was on the scene of the blaze directing efforts to extinguish the fire.
Dempsey ordered a sixth alarm just after midnight and deployed high tech equipment to direct his firefighter’s efforts. The department has been using drones equipped with thermal imaging technology that can detect where a fire is inside any given building. This allows firefighters to concentrate their efforts on these hotspots.
It took over two hours for crews to finally knock down the fire and companies remained on scene to check for removing hot spots.
After the fire was out Dempsey thanked all Boston Fire’s mutual aid partners that worked the fire at Suffolk Downs including the Chelsea, Cambridge, Needham, Newton, Somerville, Brookline and Quincy Fire Departments.
In a statement owners of the racetrack HYM said, “Thanks to the Boston Fire Department, the fire was restricted to the old press box on the grandstand roof.” The fire came a week after HYM broke ground on the first phase of the redevelopment of Suffolk Downs. Once completed the Suffolk Downs development will ultimately deliver 16.2 million square feet of development, including 10,000 apartments and condominiums, 5.2 million square feet of life science and commercial office space, 450,000 square feet of retail and civic space, and 40 acres of parks and open space