PHILADELPHIA A huge warehouse fire that erupted Monday might have destroyed elaborate floats and props slated for use in the city's annual New Year's Day parade, event participants said.
Several explosions were reported at the three-story industrial garage in a largely residential area of South Philadelphia, Fire Department Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said.
It took more than 100 firefighters almost four hours to get the four-alarm blaze under control, reports CBS Station KYW.
An elderly neighbor was taken to a hospital and was reported in stable condition.
The Red Cross was assisting several families displaced by the fire.
The cause of the fire had not been determined.
KYW reports that the warehouse owner had previously been cited for operating an auto repair shop in the building, a violation of the zoning code, Department of Licenses and Inspections spokeswoman Maura Kennedy said.
Records also indicate owner Joe Sigismondi has several tax liens against him dating back to 1995.
Firefighters were still pouring water on the building at 2nd and Wharton Streets several hours after the first flames were reported, as members of the Fralinger String Band waited to survey the damage from the blaze.
The band is one of many clubs that participate in the Mummers Parade each January 1st - a century-old tradition often described as Philadelphia's Mardi Gras, with thousands of performers dressed in fancy costumes adorned with sequins and feathers.
Mummers rehearse the musical numbers for months and put thousands of hours of labor into their extravagant outfits, set and props - much of which, in Fralinger's case, may have gone up in smoke.
Fralinger Chairman Steve Coper said the band, which has placed first several times in recent years, still plans to march on New Year's Day. "No question," he told KYW.
Other Mummers clubs have volunteered to help replace whatever has been lost, said Coper, and the band is collecting donations through its website.
"Replacing this is going to be very difficult for us in 21 days," Coper said. "We're very anxious to assess what's salvageable."
"We have our fingers crossed hoping that it's just minimum," said Thomas D'Amore, captain of the Fralinger String Band. "I'm sure there's some damage we're going to have to take care of."
D'Amore says once they find out what's left of their prized possessions, his organization plans to hold a fundraiser for those in the neighborhood who have lost much more.