BOSTON (AP) - Boston residents mourned the deaths of two firefighters 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 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. The fire union is working with their families on funeral arrangements.
“It’s just a lousy time right now,” Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald said Thursday.
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, including Gov. Deval Patrick.
Earl Johnson, a firefighter from nearby Somerville, left flowers at a makeshift memorial at the station where the U.S. flag flew at half-staff, before kneeling to pray.
“I had to come down and do my part. They’re my brothers,” he said, holding back tears as he stood at the memorial of flowers, candles, condolence notes and even a green Red Sox baseball cap.
Thirteen other firefighters were injured in the blaze Wednesday 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, officials said.
MacDonald said several firefighters remained hospitalized Thursday but he wasn’t sure how many. He said nothing has been ruled out regarding the cause of the fire, but officials know strong winds made it much more difficult to fight.
Soon after they entered the building, Walsh and Kennedy sent out a rare mayday call to let their colleagues know they were trapped.