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New England Casket Co. Owners Unsure Of Next Steps After 'Heartbreaking' Fire

BOSTON (CBS) – The owners of New England Casket Company said they are devastated after their business was destroyed by a 9-alarm fire Friday night.

Owner Lou Tobia Jr. said the fire started in an oven that heats the room where caskets dry. He said the flames began above the facility's sprinkler room, which is why it was able to spread without being doused.

Lou Tobia Jr. (WBZ-TV)

There are about 100 employees who work at New England Casket Company. They were all able to safely escape.

"We have an emergency action plan," Tobia Jr. said. "It worked like clockwork. Everyone got out so quick. It started so small, it's just shocking it turned into what we're seeing."

Casket fire
Fire at New England Casket Company in East Boston (Image credit Boston Fire)

The business has been in the Tobia family for decades. Tobia Jr.'s grandfather started the company when he came from Italy, then Lou Tobia Sr. took over and handed it over to his son.

"It's heartbreaking. But you can't bury your head in the sand. You have to deal with it," said Tobia Sr.

Tobia Jr. said many of his employees live in the East Boston neighborhood where the fire took place.

"We have just about 100 employees who are like family. I love all my employees. I just feel awful right now," he said. "We don't know what to do. This is just all new to us. We're going to figure it out. But it looks like it's a total loss."

A charred casket following a fire at New England Casket Company in East Boston. (WBZ-TV)

The building will likely be torn down in the near future. Both Lou Tobia Jr. and Lou Tobia Sr. said it's too early to know if they'll be able to rebuild, or if they would look at relocating as an option.

"We've got to take it one step at a time. Right now it's too early to commit to anything," said Tobia Sr.

"My approach right now is to take one step at a time and try to just make good decisions. That's all I want to do. My objective is to clean it up, figure out where we stand, and go from there," Tobia Jr. added.


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