Two firefighters died and more than 15 other fire responders were injured while battling a nine-alarm blaze in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood on Wednesday.
The fire took the lives of Lt. Edward Walsh Jr., 43, and firefighter Michael Kennedy, 33, who were trapped in the basement of the four-story apartment building. The sheer intensity of the inferno thwarted fellow firefighters’ frantic efforts to rescue them, according to a Boston Globe article.
Fire officials told the Boston Globe “that unusually high winds off the Charles River sent flames surging through the building, engulfing it within minutes. One fire official said he had never seen a fire travel so fast, saying it exploded in intensity ‘like a blowtorch.’”
“It was superheated gas. Just – fire coming up the stairs at us,’’ Fire Capt. Neal Mullane told the Boston Globe. “We did everything that we could to perform our job, but the conditions were just horrific. [In] 20 years, I’ve never seen anything like that.’’
In a statement released after the tragedy, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh thanked the firefighters, police officers and EMS personnel for their “heroic work” in responding to the blaze.
“Words cannot do justice to the grief that we feel tonight,” Walsh said. “Our hearts are heavy with the knowledge that these brave men gave their lives to protect the safety of our city and its people.”
As of Friday, investigators had not determined the cause of the fire, although they said they did not suspect foul play.