Update, 10:25 p.m. Nearby residents being allowed to return to their homes.
A fire that erupted on the roof of the New England Casket Co., 1141 Bennington St. in East Boston shortly after 3 p.m. spread throughout the building and spewing toxic smoke that forced the evacuation of nearby residents as it went to nine alarms.
The fire also forced the shutdown of the adjacent Blue Line, so that firefighters could get on the tracks to aim water at the fire.
The initial roof fire eventually expanded throughout the building, spewing toxic smoke because of the varnishes and other chemicals used to build caskets.
At 5:20 p.m., fire officials struck an eighth alarm and ordered reverse-911 evacuation calls to nearby residents and asked for a dozen MBTA buses to be brought in to shelter evacuated residents. Evacuees were directed to the Guild School on Leyden Street.
Firefighters were initially ordered off the roof and then out of the building. As the eighth alarm was struck, firefighters were told to stay away from exterior walls in case they collapsed.
Fire crews from Chelsea responded to the fire. Fire crews from other towns, including Everett, Malden, Revere, Brookline, Cambridge and Watertown, drove into Boston to cover Boston fire stations whose firefighters responded to the fire.
Photo by BFD:
The building was originally built as a carhouse for the Boston, Revere Beach and Lynn Railroad.
The view down the Blue Line tracks (Photo by theradrebe):
The fire not long after it was reported (photo by Melonie Veins):