Back Bay Falls Prey to Fire Again

March 31, 2014
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The Back Bay fell prey to fire for the second time in less than two months on Wednesday when a nine-alarm blaze tore through a four-story brownstone at 298 Beacon St., killing two Boston firefighters.

Lt. Ed Walsh, 43, of West Roxbury and firefighter Michael Kennedy, 33, of Hyde Park died after responding to the fire, which started in the basement at around 2:43 p.m. before quickly consuming the entire building. Thirteen of the 150 firefighters on the scene also suffered non-life threatening injuries as they battled the blaze amid wind gusts that reached nearly 50 miles per hour.

“The men and women of the Boston Fire Department are the brave heroes who run towards the danger when others run away,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement released the day of the fire. “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.”

District 8 City Councilor Josh Zakim also lauded the fallen fire fighters.

“The people of Boston have a simple charge today – remember the sacrifice of Lt. Walsh and firefighter Kennedy,” Zakim said in a statement. ”Their heroism and professionalism, both which stood tall in the face of unimaginable circumstances, is staggering. I join all of Boston, reverently, respectfully, and extend our thoughts and prayers to the families, friends and comrades left behind. What our firefighters do for us – how can we ever repay that debt?”

Zakim offered his assistance to the building’s displaced residents, at least five of whom were taken to area hospitals after sustaining non-life threatening injuries in the fire. He urged those affected by the blaze to contact his office at 617-635-4225 or via e-mail at josh.zakim@boston.gov, as well as the mayor’s 24-hour hotline at 617-635-4500.

The cause of the blaze, which destroyed the eight-unit building, is still under investigation, officials said.

Last week’s blaze comes on the heels of a seven-alarm fire that ravaged an apartment building at 31 Massachusetts Ave. on Feb. 1, sending three firefighters to the hospital with minor injuries, displacing 40 residents and causing an estimated $2.5 million in damages.

The Beacon Street fire also occurred just blocks away from The Hotel Vendome at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Dartmouth Street, which was the site of a four-alarm blaze that claimed the lives of nine firefighters on June 17, 1972.

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