March 27. 2014 8:29AM

2 dead, 17 hurt in historic Boston neighborhood blaze

BOSTON (Reuters) — Two firefighters were reported killed and at least 17 people injured as a nine-alarm fire raced through a four-story building in the city's historic Back Bay neighborhood on Wednesday, drawing a large-scale emergency response, local officials said.

The Boston Globe, quoting two people with direct knowledge of the fire, said the two Boston firefighters died while battling the blaze but gave no further details.

All residents of the apartment building escaped unharmed, said Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald. He described the fire as a nine-alarm incident, the department's highest level of severity.

With more than 150 firefighters at the scene, it was not immediately known how many of the injured may have been civilians, he said.

"It's a very unstable condition right now," MacDonald told reporters earlier. With the winds, "it's hard fighting it from the outside."

Boston Emergency Medical Service said it had taken 17 people to area hospitals.

On Wednesday afternoon, MacDonald told Reuters that of the injured firefighters brought to area hospitals, one was listed in serious condition.

Firefighters were focused on keeping the blaze from spreading to neighboring buildings on a day the city was buffeted by high winds, MacDonald said.

Live television video showed an enormous plume of smoke rising from the building, and hovering over the city. State police said they closed a major roadway along the Charles River behind the burning building.