BOSTON (AP) — Fire destroyed a landmark wholesale and retail seafood business on the waterfront early Friday, but there were no reports of injuries.
It was not known why the fire broke out around 3:30 a.m. at James Hook & Co., which extends on pilings over the harbor. Several hours later, firefighters were still working to contain the blaze, which continued to burn, particularly in rooms full of corrugated cardboard boxes used for shipping seafood, Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald.
They had to battle the blaze from outside the building after being ordered out amid fear it would collapse. A dive team was sent into the water as a precautionary measure in case a firefighter fell into the harbor, Fire Chief Kevin MacCurtain said.
James Hook & Co. has been in business since 1925, when the Hook brothers started trucking their catch of lobsters from Maine and Canada to Boston's fish piers and selling them directly to the city's top restaurants. The business now ships 50,000 pounds of lobsters a day, according to its Web site.
One of the owners, Ed Hook, told WHDH-TV he saw smoke on his way into the city at 4:30 a.m. and knew there was trouble.
"It's hard for me to even look at the building," said Hook, adding that the business is run by third and fourth generations of his family. "I just can't believe the condition it's in. It's devastating."
No one was in the building when the fire broke out.
"Everyone's just in shock," he said. "That's our future, that's our present and that's our past."
The building sits in the heart of Boston's waterfront, close to the luxury Boston Harbor and Intercontinental hotels and a U.S. Coast Guard facility. It is across the street from Fire Department headquarters and the city's Financial District.
The blaze tangled traffic in the heavily traveled area. A portion of Atlantic Avenue, the main thoroughfare along the waterfront, was shut down and the Interstate 93 exit to Purchase Street was closed.
Meanwhile, divers were in the harbor to check the integrity of the pilings below the building to ensure the pier was safe. They also had hoses in the water to keep fire from threatening a nearby wooden pedestrian bridge, MacDonald said.