A nine-alarm fire broke out in a four-story brick row house on Beacon Street Wednesday, spurred by the gusting winds throughout the day, and resulted in the death of two firefighters.
Firefighter Michael Kennedy, 33, of Hyde Park and Lt. Edward Walsh, 43, of West Roxbury were killed in the fire, after responding to the blaze at 2:45 p.m.
“The men and women of Boston Fire Department are the brace heroes who run towards the danger when others run away,” said Boston Mayor Martin Walsh in a statement. “A day like today makes us all too aware of what they are risking in the course of doing their jobs. They are heroes simply by virtue of accepting this duty. They put themselves in harm’s way so that others might be safe.”
Josh Zakim, city councilor of District 8 where the fire occurred, said the scene was so hectic that he did not know many details about what had occurred, but said the fire caused the death of two brave firefighters.
“It was a very serious fire,” he said. “Folks have been displaced from their homes, and firefighters tragically have been injured and killed today. This is the first time in a while that any firefighters have died in the line of duty … I don’t have any more information at the time than that. The mayor’s office has set up a station near the location to provide resources and help.”
Many residents were at the scene of the fire, drawn by the mountain of smoke billowing from the rooftop, noticeable from even across the Charles River.
“We were walking back from Newbury, and we just saw lots of police cars and fire trucks,” said Lily Glassberg, 24, of Dorchester. “We could see the smoke from far away and smell it as we got closer, and the closer we got, we started breathing in the smoke. There are cop cars everywhere, it’s pretty insane.”
Liam Henkels, 28, of Back Bay said the scene was confusing with everyone wanting to know what was going on and who was safe.
“No one really realized what was going on at first, but we could see the smoke,” he said. “Then we realized it was a really serious fire, and we heard that some of the firefighters were actually injured.”
Tracy Taylor, 30, of Back Bay who lives on Beacon Street, said the fire started in the basement and had risen up all the way through the roof before spreading to adjacent buildings.
“One of the bigger concerns right now, because of the wind, [is that] it could jump over between buildings,” she said while looking at the fire.
Taylor said she is not sure of the damages, but she needs to look for a place to stay.
“I was at work and my chef came over to me and told me there was a fire and that I should go home and make sure everything’s okay,” she said. “I was just in shock and panic … I’m thinking of a place to stay in the meantime in case I can’t stay in my apartment.”
Walsh said his thoughts were with the two firefighters families as they face such a terrible loss.
“Words cannot do justice to the grief that we feel tonight,” he said in a statement. “Our hearts are heavy with the knowledge that these brave men gave their lives to protect the safety of our city and its people.”