2 firefighters dead, 13 injured in 9-alarm Beacon Street blaze - FOX 35 News Orlando

Investigation continues as tributes to 2 deceased Boston firefighters pour in

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BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- An investigation continued Thursday at the scene of a 9-alarm fire that killed two Boston firefighters and injured 13 others.

Beacon Street remained blocked off Thursday morning as fire and police officials worked to determine a cause of the fire that claimed the lives of Lt. Ed Walsh, 43, of West Roxbury, and firefighter Michael Kennedy, 33, of Hyde Park. A memorial continued to grow overnight outside the Back Bay firehouse where the men worked.

Firefighters responded to 298 Beacon St. at 2:43 p.m. Wednesday and struck a ninth alarm on the fire, which is the highest number of alarms the system reaches. It took just 30 minutes for officers to hit nine alarms.

The fire began in the basement of the four-story brownstone apartment building, and escalated all the way through the roof. Thick smoke could be seen coming from the building throughout Boston.

Among the first emergency responders on scene were firefighters from Engine 33/Ladder 15 on Boylston Street. Two firefighters from that firehouse, Walsh and Kennedy, were working on flames in the basement while other firefighters were rescuing residents. Officials say they issued a "mayday" call to firefighters inside within minutes. They believe wind gusts may have pushed fire toward Walsh and Kennedy while they were inside the basement.

Thirteen additional firefighters were injured. They were taken to various area hospitals.

As of 4 p.m., the fire was still raging inside the building. Wind gusts in Boston were reaching 50 miles per hour Wednesday afternoon.

The Boston fire chief said that he hasn't see a fire escalate that quickly in 30 years. For the department, the loss is "very tough."

Though people were inside the building at the time, they were able to leave out a back fire escape and there were no reports of missing residents, MacDonald said. Between 20 and 30 trucks responded, and each carries approximately four people, according to MacDonald.

"I was in the apartment and I heard shouting and yelling and the people that were in the building next door were going down the fire escape and two seconds later, the firemen were there," said one woman who lived in the building. "So I looked out the window and I saw the smoke and I was like I gotta get out of here so I grabbed my laptops and this box and I left. And then, as I was leaving the smoke was coming into the building, into the apartment and the firemen were there yelling, 'Everybody get out.'"

She was on the second floor of the building when the fire started. Once out of the building, she saw smoke and people throwing suitcases out of the windows.

Another man, who was on the first floor of the building when the fire started, said, "I saw the smoke start coming up, I saw people climbing down from the top floor. The fire and police were there almost right away. There was a lot of smoke, there was a small explosion at the beginning of the fire, and it just got worse and worse."

Suffolk County prosecutors responded to the scene of the fire. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was also at the scene, as was the American Red Cross.

Red Cross volunteers provided canteening services for residents, first responders and those on scene. The MBTA provided two buses to shelter everyone from the cold.

Gov. Deval Patrick released the following statement Wednesday:

"My heart and my condolences go out to the families of the firefighters lost in the line of duty today, as well as to the entire Boston Fire Department. This terrible tragedy reinforces how we must be grateful every single day for the brave men and women who put themselves in danger day in and day out to keep us safe."

Walsh also released a statement that read in part: "Words cannot do justice to the grief that we feel tonight. Our hearts are heavy with the knowledge that these brave men gave their lives to protect the safety of our city and its people."

According to the city assessor's office, the building is worth $1.6 million. The building is a total loss, the fire chief said.

All but two of the residents that were displaced stayed with family and friends. Anyone in need of help is encouraged to call the Red Cross at 800-564-1234.

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