New England Casket Company Fire

A devastating 9-alarm fire on March 15, 2019, destroyed all of the buildings of CFSA-member New England Casket Company in East Boston, Massachusetts.

Word spread quickly among the CFSA family of members throughout North America, and text and email messages were flying throughout that afternoon and evening as the Boston Fire Department kept adding to the alarms – 3-alarm, then 5-alarm, rising by evening to a rare 9-alarm fire!

Everyone was nervous and concerned for all of the employees, and especially our two CFSA Past-Presidents Lou Tobia and Lou Tobia, Jr., and it wasn’t until the photo above was tweeted about 5:00 pm that we could exhale knowing that the Tobias were safe. Indeed, as Lou, Jr., was quoted the next day in the media, everyone was safe: “We have an emergency action plan. It worked like clockwork. Everyone got out so quick. It started so small, it’s just shocking it turned into what we’re seeing.”

We are uncertain of the Tobias’ future plans for the company, but Lou, Sr., stoically was quoted, “It’s heartbreaking. But you can’t bury your head in the sand. You have to deal with it.”

On behalf of the officers, board of directors, and staff – indeed, all of CFSA’s member companies – we extend our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the Tobias and all of the employees of New England Casket Company.


Excerpt from East Boston Times-Free Press (

Since March 25, one of the Curtis Guild Elementary School’s fourth-grade classes has been collecting their toys and selling them during lunchtime and recess to raise funds for the families affected by the New England Casket Company’s devastating nine-alarm fire on March 15, when the family-owned business of nearly 80 years succumbed to flames.

Teacher John Rogers hopes his students learn that when tragedies occur, and neighbors are struggling, they should lend a generous hand. He asserts that wealth is not necessary to contribute to the community; only kindness and support.

“Sometimes you lose a job and feel like nothing is going to work out,” Cynthia said. “Sometimes people help out and make you feel like you’re not alone. Even kids can make a big difference. We feel proud.”


The concerned students took a field trip down Bennington Street to the site of the casket company, where they met owner, Lou Tobia, Jr., whose graciousness was staggering.


“When I said, ‘Raise your hand if you brought in toys or helped at the store,’ I could tell he was feeling a type of magic,” described Rogers. “He knew he was not alone. We care.”


Due to heavy smoke during the fire, some Orient Heights residents were encouraged to evacuate and take temporary shelter at the Guild School. Rogers, and many Guild students, live in Orient Heights, and remember seeing black smoke from their homes. “There were flakes of fire shooting up,” Jari reported. “There was a lot of smoke and people telling people to back up.”


Unity, appreciation, and charity are the important values that Rogers wishes to instill in his students through the School Store fundraiser. Before dismissal, Ana added, “We are practicing empathy, and putting ourselves in other people’s shoes.” “We want to be a community that respects and helps each other,” explained Wilson, one of the students. “We want to be kind and show that we have a heart.”