WAYLAND, MASS. (WHDH) - Business owners, residents and local officials assessed damage Wednesday as authorities continued to investigate a major fire that ripped through a commercial building off Main Street in Wayland on Tuesday.
The fire broke out on Tuesday afternoon, drawing a major emergency response, sending sparks flying from power lines and setting off multiple explosions, according to local fire officials.
No one inside the building was hurt. But officials said two firefighters were treated and released for minor injuries.
“I was hearing a lot of sirens, some popping,” said Wayland native Beth Fitzgerald.
Officials said the fire appeared to start in an auto body shop bordered by a dry cleaning business and a pizza shop. At least one other business in addition to the auto body shop, the pizza shop and the dry cleaning business was housed in the strip mall building that burned.
SKY7-HD was over the scene around 4 p.m. as the fire spread to a car parked outside. Flames ultimately destroyed five cars and sent smoke billowing over the area.
Speaking with reporters, Wayland Fire Chief Neil McPherson said firefighters from Wayland and a half-dozen surrounding communities opted not to go into the burning building, instead fighting the fire from positions outside the structure.
“We knew we had chemicals and a lot of explosive material and we saw early on and throughout the fire that there was a lot of different explosions,” McPherson said.
Fire crews were on scene for hours Tuesday, working into the night to tamp down hotspots within what was left of the building.
On Wednesday, 7NEWS spoke to one area resident whose wife owns one of the cars destroyed in this fire.
The resident said his wife was excited to pick up her freshly repaired Toyota. Then, she heard a loud boom and realized she would not be driving her car again.
Others in the area shared their thoughts, saying Liberty Pizza next to the burned auto body shop has been a beloved stop for generations.
“(It’s) very special to my family, the community, it’s a very devastating loss,” Fitzgerald said.
The roof of the auto body shop collapsed during the fire on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the other businesses in the building were closed.
Liberty Pizza suffered some interior damage. While he surveyed the scene, the man who bought the pizzeria eight years ago said he is thankful to the Wayland Fire Department and the community.
“The people are so nice here,” said owner Sam Maksimous. “I love the people. I treat them as my family.”
Asked if he thinks his business can be saved, Maksimous responded.
“I hope so,” he said.
State police troopers from the State Fire Marshal’s office were on scene with accelerant sniffing dogs on Wednesday.
Officials said the use of the dogs is normal procedure, though, and said there was no information as of Wednesday afternoon to indicate this fire is suspicious.
The man who owns International Auto Body — the auto body shop damaged by this fire — has consulted with Wayland’s town manager about whether the building can be saved.
The owner did not want to talk with 7NEWS about the fire.
Local officials, meanwhile, said they will do everything they can do to help business owners.
“We don’t want to lose any businesses,” said Town Manager Michael McCall. “And where they’ve been here for a while, we want to ensure that we can help them stay and rebuild.”
Demolition crews were working to demolish part of the auto body shop and remove debris around 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Structural engineers also remained on site as they had not yet determined if the rest of the building could be saved.
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