A 5-alarm fire reported around 7:30 p.m. in the former Armstrong Pharmaceuticals complex at Lagrange and Centre streets sent thick smoke into the surrounding streets, where residents had been complaining for weeks about homeless people and teenagers seen going in and out of the buildings.
Firefighters stayed out of the series of connected buildings - which had been marked months ago as off limits in the event of a fire because of a lack of sprinklers and structural issues. The bulk of the fire was reported knocked down around 10:30 p.m., but firefighters remained on scene to watch for hot spots that might flare up.
Local landlord and developer Michael Argiros, who had proposed replacing the factory with apartments in April, bought the property on Aug. 26 for $2.2 million, according to Suffolk County Registry of Deeds records.
Joe Donahue reported from the scene:
Nasty, toxic smell. HazMat also on site. Everyone fearful of a big boom.
The building borders the Needham Line, on which the MBTA suspended train service.
Last month, a resident complained to the city about the factory:
Armstrong pharmaceutical building is abandoned and vacant. Homeless and teenagers are accessing the building from the open back door. Strong chemical odor coming from the building.
ISD issued a violation on Sept. 4.
Julia C. photographed the worsening smoke around 8:30 p.m., on Lagrange just north of the train bridge, looking towards Centre:
Firefighters were in the thick of it (photo by BFD):
The smoke filled the neighborhood, as Ed Grzyb shows:
Sean took a photo of a responding truck: