NATICK, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — At least eight Natick businesses were destroyed by an eight-alarm blaze that left a major part of town shut down Monday.
The fire broke out overnight in the basement of the King Wok Chinese Restaurant on South Main Street, across from Natick Town Hall, just after 1 a.m.
Crews from 16 different communities worked to get the blaze under control throughout the morning.
Natick Fire Chief Mike Lentini says at least three firefighters suffered minor injuries fighting the flames. As of noon, two had already been released from the hospital.
Officials said the unique layout of the buildings—some of which were built in the early 1900s—made it hard for crews to find the initial fire.
"Because of the nature of this building and the cut up construction, [crews] had difficulty finding the seat of the fire," Chief Lentini said.
That forced crews to take up positions outside. They used chainsaws to rip apart the building and get at the flames; a drone hovered overhead to give them a better view of the destruction.
Police are asking drivers to avoid Routes 27 and 135 in Natick.
Many who live and work in the area came out to watch the flames from across the street, some even bringing out lawn chairs.
"It's the worst loss I've experienced since I've been here in Natick for 25 years," one resident told WBZ NewsRadio's Carl Stevens. "The King Wok Restaurant was a staple in Natick ... there's so many people who have been sending their children to that dancing studio for decades now, and they send their children to that dance studio."
As the flames subsided, business owners looked on as the buildings were taken down. One of the businesses affected belongs to Rosemary, who told WBZ NewsRadio's James Rojas she's been here for years.
"I put my life into that business, and it's really hard," she said. "People say, 'Oh, you have insurance,' but I put my heart and soul into taking care of my clients and their dogs, you know?"
A firefighter came out of the Nancy Kelley Dance Studio carrying an armful of awards and plaques, handing them off to off-duty firefighter Bob Dory—who then brought them to a grateful Nancy Kelley herself.
"I met Nancy out here, and she was wondering if she could get anything before they tear the building down," Dory said. "I did speak to one of my on-duty colleagues who was able to make that happen."
(Photo: Carl Stevens/WBZ NewsRadio)
WBZ NewsRadio's James Rojas (@JamesRojasWBZ) reports