Their South Philadelphia warehouse was still smoldering from a four-alarm fire earlier in the day, but members of the Fralinger String Band declared Monday night that they would not miss the Mummers Parade.

"Fralinger will never back down from a challenge," said Thomas D'Amore, 24, the captain.

The band had been renting first-floor space at Second and Wharton Streets to make props and costumes, D'Amore said.

"Unfortunately, this is the first year we've rented this spot," said D'Amore, drinking a Pepsi outside the Shamrock Pub down Two Street.

Steve Coper, chairman and business manager of Fralinger, said the fire damage could reach into the tens of thousands of dollars.

"It's all of our props for New Year's Day, most of which have been completed. So, if it's a total loss, it's very devastating," Coper said.

"The thing that hurts the most," D'Amore added, was that "this is a hobby for the guys who are 9-to-5 blue collar, so what was lost was all their free time they put in."

But, he said later, Fralinger was determined not only to hit the street for the parade, but to "put on a show that Fralinger's is capable of" and compete at the highest level.

Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said the fire was reported at 2:14 p.m. in the two-story building, which also houses an auto-service shop.

The second alarm was struck at 2:34, the third at 2:45, and the fourth at 3:17, Ayers said.

Firefighters forced open a garage door and saw automobiles on fire, Ayers said.

The flames and smoke were severe enough that officials decided to fight the blaze from outside, Ayers said.

"It was a good decision," he said.

D'Amore said he learned about the blaze from his brother, who also is in the band.

"When I got down here, it was already a full-fledged fire," he said.

Ayers said there was "tons of fire [and] several explosions early on."

Two adjacent rowhouses were damaged, and the residents were not able to return Monday night, Ayers said.

An elderly female evacuee was taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where she was reported in stable condition.

Peco cut power to 550 customers in the area at the Fire Department's request while the blaze was being battled. By 9 p.m., Peco had restored power to all but 26 customers, and it expected them to be back online by 11.

The fire was declared under control at 4:47.