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Boston mourns 2 firefighters killed in blaze

Boston Mourns Death Of Two Firefighters Killed In Blaze

BOSTON (AP) -- Boston residents mourned the deaths of two firefighters who were killed when a fire driven by strong winds whipped through a brownstone and trapped them in the basement in a neighborhood just blocks from where nine city firefighters died in a 1972 hotel collapse.

Tributes poured in Wednesday for Lt. Edward J. Walsh, a 43-year-old father of three who had almost a decade of experience, and firefighter Michael R. Kennedy, a 33-year-old Marine Corps combat veteran who had been a firefighter for more than six years.

Thirteen other firefighters were injured in the blaze in the city's Back Bay district, and several police officers also were taken to hospitals. Some residents were rescued from the upper floors of the four-story apartment building, but none was hurt, city officials said.

"Today's a sad day for the city of Boston," Mayor Martin J. Walsh said. "We lost two heroes here today."

Deputy Fire Chief Joseph Finn said the 9-alarm fire, which sent smoke and flames pouring from the roof and windows of the brownstone, appeared to have started in the basement but moved quickly throughout the building. The cause wasn't known, but he said all indications are that it was accidental and that it was the wind that caused the fire to spread through the building so quickly. Firewalls stopped the fire from consuming adjacent buildings.

"In 30 years I've never seen a fire travel that fast, escalate that quickly and create such havoc in such a short period of time," he said.

Finn said Walsh and Kennedy had gone down inside stairs into the basement, and he assumed that a front window broke out and blew the fire back at them. They called a mayday within two or three minutes of entering the building.

Kennedy was found about 30 minutes later and was pulled from the building but was pronounced dead at a hospital. Walsh's body was recovered later and was removed in what fire department spokesman Steve MacDonald described as "a very solemn ceremony," in which he was carried on a stretcher out the back of the building through a line of saluting firefighters.

Some of the other firefighters were injured when they were blown down stairs by a backdraft explosion caused by the wind, Finn said.

The fire, which began shortly before 3 p.m., was under control late Wednesday night but firefighters stayed at the site overnight to extinguish any remaining flames.

Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley assigned a prosecutor trained to investigate fatal fires to work with fire and police, a probe he said is standard procedure when there is an unattended or unnatural death.

The DA's office said the two firefighters died a few blocks from the former Hotel Vendome, where nine Boston firefighters were killed in June 1972 when a section of the building collapsed following a fire. A memorial to those men is now located in the neighborhood.

Condolences filled the Boston Fire Department's Twitter page from city residents, officials, police and other fire departments - some as far away as Sioux City, Iowa.

Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley offered prayers "for God's gift of peace for all impacted by this devastating loss," and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who lives in the Back Bay, extended "deepest sympathies and condolences" to the fire department and families "of our brave and selfless firefighters who gave their lives for our protection and safety today."

At Engine 33/Ladder 15, Kennedy and Walsh's station, not far from the fire and in the shadow of the Prudential Center, people stopped by to pay their respects.

Ralph Watson, a middle school principal in Cambridge, left a bouquet of roses outside the station.

"We live just down from where the fire was. It's very sad," he said. "We were standing when they took, I think, one of them by in a stretcher."

Anna Kosmidou, who lives in the apartment building next to the one that caught fire, said she and other residents were told they could not stay there Wednesday night.

"I'm very, very afraid. I'm still in shock," she said. "They called me at work, and then I ran over here."

The last Boston firefighter killed on duty died in 2009, when the fire truck in which he was riding struck a building after its brakes failed. Two firefighters died in 2007 battling a restaurant fire in the West Roxbury neighborhood.

Join the discussion

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tdiplaci March 27 2014 at 8:35 AM

You can never appreciate enough the bravery and dedication of the Firefighters that charge into our burning buildings to save lives and property. Prayers to the families and fellow Firefighters of these two brave souls. May those injured make full recoveries.

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ssass3101 March 27 2014 at 11:49 AM

I think it is one of the sadest things when a firefighter dies saving lives
They are so brave, they are out there saving people putting their life on the line
wonderful people

Flag Reply +4 rate up
pamiss45 March 27 2014 at 11:49 AM

My condolences to the families of these fallen hero firefighters. Also to their fellow firefighters at Engine33. You save so many - my thanks go out to you.

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ercprn March 27 2014 at 12:14 PM

Ours prayers and blessings are for you today, with a heartfelt thank you, while bearing witness to your families pain.
Thank you from the heart to all those who protect us through out each day. K&J (Brigham and Womens Hosp. )

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laviede444 March 27 2014 at 12:28 PM

Condolences to the families of these brave men. So sad.

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jethroe3 March 27 2014 at 12:39 PM

so sad thoughts & prayers to the families & the fire & police of boston

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Mike March 27 2014 at 1:02 PM

As a retired fire lieutenant and former president of IAFF Local 2018, Middleburg Heights, Ohio, I extend my condolences and prayers to the family and friends of Lieutenant Edward Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy, both members of the Boston Fire Department. These men are truly heroes, a term that is sadly used all too casually nowadays. These heroes daily put on the uniform and put themselves at risk when they go to work. Please, remember these brave men and women and say "Thank you" when you have the chance. Also, please pray for their families and the families of other firefighters who have lost their lives the past. Lastly, to my brother firefighters, please be safe in all that you do.

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1 reply
kindlemomma Mike March 27 2014 at 1:56 PM

Firefighters are a rare breed of hero. They help people and not just in cases of fire. They simply see a need to help and do it. Its who they are. All firefighters deserve recognition. They deserve respect and at such sad times their families deserve are respect and condolences as well. Furry hugs from all my fur kids to them.

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chasesea March 27 2014 at 1:25 PM

An extremely sad day in Boston. I'm so sorry for their loved ones...esp. 3 little children who lost their father. Beyond heartbreaking.

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rparr599 March 27 2014 at 2:15 PM

My son is a firefighter and my husband a deputy. They put their life on the line every day they are on the job. They are all heroes! My heart goes out to their families.

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MomSince78 March 27 2014 at 2:21 PM

I often see firefighters in the supermarket, Boston, Somerville and Medford, and I try to never miss the opportunity to thank them for doing their jobs, (risking their lives to keep us safe).
Thank you to all of our Firefighters and Police Officers! My deepest condolences for this terrible loss. God Bless them and their families!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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