Yesterday there was another tragedy in our fair city. A fire broke out in the Back Bay, one of the more tightly packed areas of the city, both architecturally and in terms of traffic. It quickly went to 9 alarms, sent 18 people to the hospital, destroyed the 4 story building where it started, and killed 2 firefighters.
9 city blocks were closed through this morning as 40+ mph winds whipped the fire into a frenzy. Backdraft type conditions made the fire merciless and the brave men and women kept fighting even when they knew that one of their comrades lay dead at the bottom of the building. Even when the fire leapt through the roof and reached for the sky, when floors collapsed and sprayed the surrounding houses with showers of embers, and when the smoke was so thick we could see it from Cambridge, they fought on for hours.
There are pictures on Boston.com, twitter, instagram, and elsewhere. I won’t post them here. They’re hard. They’re uncomfortably real and close. This all happened just blocks from where two foolish selfish idiots tried to blow our city apart nearly a year ago. This was just around the corner from the freshly painted finish line for this year’s marathon. The same first responders, the Firefighters and EMTs from Engine 33 Ladder 15, that were the first on the scene at the marathon last year were also first on scene yesterday. This time they lost two of their own, firefighter Michael R. Kennedy and Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh.
That firehouse is unassuming. I’ve walked by it a hundred times. The people in it are friendly to a person and they’re always around college kids as Berklee College of music is all around them. Today, as flags went to half staff all across the Commonwealth, condolences poured in from all over, and as black bunting was hung from the front of the building, the Berklee kids gathered to do what they could for the firehouse that has given so much to the community and has asked so little in return.
As I type this our neighboring towns of Revere and Everett are fighting a fire.
As I type this I remember the fire that took my grandmother and two other elderly people from this life.
Stay safe, people, hug a firefighter, and Boston Strong. We get through this together.