Firefighters battled a four-alarm blaze that destroyed a longtime school-uniform store next to the Market-Frankford Line in the city’s East Frankford section Friday afternoon.
One firefighter was transported to Temple University Hospital to be treated for heat exhaustion. No other injuries were reported.
SEPTA halted service of the El in the immediate area and was running shuttle buses between the Erie-Torresdale station and the Frankford Transportation Center into Friday evening.
The fire erupted around 1 p.m. in the 4500 block of Frankford Avenue at the corner of Orthodox Street, where Cramer's Uniforms is located. Flames ripped through the roof of the business and billowing smoke could be seen for miles.
The second alarm was struck around 1:15 p.m. and the third shortly before 1:50.
The fourth alarm was struck just before 2:20 p.m., and it took roughly 140 members of the Fire Department until about 3:50 p.m. to bring the blaze under control.
“Several people were displaced. Firefighters did an incredible job of stopping the fire before it took the whole block. Three main buildings were affected. There were some collapses into the street,” the Fire Department reported on its Twitter account.
“Firefighters will remain at the scene for many hours to fully extinguish the fire. Please continue to avoid the area near Frankford and Orthodox,” the department tweeted.
Cramer’s Uniforms is a well-known supplier of school uniforms and has two other locations, in South and West Philadelphia.
Robert Cramer, president of the family-owned business, said he was in South Jersey when he was alerted by his alarm company that there might be a fire.
He was driving onto the city over the Walt Whitman Bridge when he saw smoke and knew it was his store.
“You see that all the time in Philadelphia,” he said. “For the first time, it was my smoke.”
Cramer, 62, said the Frankford Avenue store, which his grandfather opened just after World War II, was in two adjacent buildings at the corner, and both were lost in the fire. The location had been supplying uniforms for about 30 charter schools in the lower Northeast, he said.
The company had been closed since mid-March because of the coronavirus lockdown, but it recently resumed online ordering and shipping.
Cramer said the fire won’t stop his company from providing uniforms for the new school year because most of that occurs in July and August.
The cause of the blaze was under investigation.