The two Boston firefighters who died while battling the 9-alarm
blaze were found in the basement of the building and had placed a
"mayday" call, or a distress call, moments after gaining entrance
underground, said Boston Deputy Fire Chief Joseph Finn.
The firefighters were identified at a late Wednesday news conference
as Boston Fire Department veterans Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy.
"It's a sad day for the city of Boston. We lost two heroes here
today," said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. "It's unfortunate that it
takes a tragedy to appreciate the work that the men and women of the
Boston Fire Department do."
More than 150 firefighters responded to the fire and all the
residents of the building who were home when the fire broke out were
able to get out, fire officials said. Some of them escaped from the
Boston Emergency Medical Service said it had taken 17 people to area
The cause of the blaze was still under investigation.
The powerful fire appears to have started in the basement and ripped
through the four-story building, divided into apartments, "like a
blowtorch," Finn said.
Wind gusts in Boston on Wednesday that reached about 50 miles per
hour contributed to the fire spreading quickly, according to Finn.
"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
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The fire quickly tore through the historic brownstone building that
local officials said had been standing on Boston's famous Beacon
Street since the 19th Century.
Firefighters said they focused on keeping it from spreading to
neighboring buildings in the densely populated area of central
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
(Reporting by Scott Malone; additional reporting by Barbara
Goldberg; editing by Brendan O'Brien, Gunna Dickson and Ken Wills)
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