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Fire Destroys 5 Buildings In Waltham Apartment Complex

WALTHAM (CBS) -- A massive early-morning fire destroyed an Elm Street apartment complex that was under construction Sunday.

The blaze was first reported around 4 a.m., and it took crews from over a dozen different communities nearly four hours to get it under control.

Almost fifteen hours later you could still see smoke.

Five apartment buildings under construction, set to hold 260 units, were destroyed in the blaze, which spanned about two blocks.

Waltham Fire Chief Paul Ciccone said crews experienced water pressure issues due to the sheer size of the fire.

"We had the water department come in and re-direct some flows throughout the city, they open up some gates, bring more water into the area," he said. "But with a fire this size, this volume of fire, the only thing you can use is water--and with the amount of water we used, you're gonna run short."

Chief Ciccone said it could take a few days to get heavy equipment in to move the debris and completely extinguish the fire.

"It won't be out for quite a while because of the debris," he said. "We're gonna wet it down, cool it off as much as we can. Then, we will have to bring equipment in to take it apart and complete extinguishment."

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries.

"The whole landscape has completely changed, it's crazy," one man commented.

waltham fire
An aerial view of the blaze in Waltham. (Massachusetts State Police)

The fire could be seen from miles away.

Nearly 150 seniors in nearby high rises were evacuated as a precaution and taken to a school in Waltham.

Larry Steinfield, 101-years-old, was not too phased.

"It didn't affect our apartment except it put the power out, that is why we are here," Steinfeld explained.

He was focused on the positive aspects of the situation, "This pizza is the best pizza I've ever eaten, do you know why? I haven't eaten since yesterday."

The fire response slightly disrupted the MBTA Commuter Rail Sunday morning.

Waltham Police said the Latino Fest Parade was canceled due to the fire response.

Roads leading to the apartment complex were closed.

Last week, the city and the fire department approved the apartment buildings during an inspection, according to a Callahan construction spokesperson.

The fire remains under investigation.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Kim Tunnicliffe reports

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