Authorities search for cause of deadly Back Bay fire that killed two firefighters

A day after a nine-alarm fire killed two firefighters in the Back Bay, the Boston Fire Department is back at the scene searching for the cause of the massive blaze.

The Boston Globe reports:

"There was some kind of extraordinary event that happened in the basement," Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald said, while standing near the charred remants of the four-story brownstone building at 298 Beacon St.

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This combination made with undated photos released by the Boston Fire Department via Twitter shows firefighters Michael R. Kennedy, left, and Lt. Edward J. Walsh, who were killed Wednesday, March 26, 2014, when trapped the basement while fighting a fire in an apartment building in Boston. Kennedy, 33, a Marine Corps combat veteran was assigned to Ladder 15, and had been a firefighter for more than six years. Walsh, 43, and a father of three, was assigned to Engine 33, and had been a firefighter for almost a decade. (AP Photo/Boston Fire Department)
Michael R. Kennedy (left) and Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh Jr.
AP/Boston Fire Departmen

The blaze took the lives of Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh Jr., 43, of West Roxbury and Michael R. Kennedy, 33, of Hyde Park. The firefighters sent out a mayday call from the basement of the building, indicating they may have been trapped.

Both firefighters were assigned to Engine 33, Ladder 15 on Boylston Street. Walsh had more than nine years of experience and was married with two boys and one girl, all under the age of 10. His late father and late uncle were lieutenants in Watertown, according to the Boston Fire Department.

Kennedy had more than six years of experience and was a Marine Corps veteran. He was unmarried and served on the board of the Boston Firefighters Burn Foundation, a volunteer group that works with burn victims, according to the Boston Fire Department.

Several other firefighters were rushed to the hospital with injuries yesterday, the Associated Press reported.

Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald says he isn't sure exactly how many firefighters remain in the hospital. Thirteen were taken for treatment Wednesday. Some were admitted for burns, heat exhaustion and other injuries.

The deadly fire broke out in a brownstone at 298 Beacon Street in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood yesterday afternoon. The building had eight apartment units, fire officials said.

“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,” incident commander chief Joseph Finn said yesterday. “The wind was blowing in off the Charles, it drove the fire and everything with it.”

It is believed that the fast-moving fire may have started in the basement Finn added. Firefighters also battled against strong winds which made conditions more difficult.

The deadly fire drew somber reactions from local and state officials.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh called it a “sad day for the city of Boston” and released the following statement:

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.

Governor Patrick and others took to social media took express their sentiments. Patrick tweeted:

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.

Today, firefighters, residents, and others across the region are paying respects to the fallen firefighters.

In New Hampshire, Governor Maggie Hassan directed all flags to fly at half-staff in honor of the two firefighters killed in the blaze, the Associated Press reports.

In Boston, flowers, candles, and notes have been left in a makeshift memorial outside the fire station where Walsh and Kennedy were assigned.