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BOSTON (USA TODAY)-- A massive apartment-building fire has killed two Boston firefighters in the city's upscale Back Bay neighborhood.

The nine-alarm fire sent flames roaring from the roof of the four-story building, along with a towering column of smoke, according to pictures distributed by the Boston Fire Department.

The fire began in the basement, the fire department said, and engulfed the rest of the building.

Boston EMS spokesman Nick Martin told the Associated Press that 18 people, all police officers or firefighters, were rushed to hospitals.

Firefighters crouched beneath the brick building's lower windows as flames poured out of them.

The fire is at 298 Beacon Street, overlooking Storrow Drive and the adjacent Charles River. Property records show the $1.6 million building houses apartments.

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