Officials say two firefighters killed by a fast-moving, wind-driven fire that ripped through a Boston brownstone died after they were trapped in the basement.
Deputy Fire Chief Joseph Finn identified the two as Lt. Edward J. Walsh and firefighter Michael R. Kennedy.
Kennedy, 33 was a member of Ladder Company 15 on Boylston Street. He was a 6 and a half year veteran of the deparment. Firefighter Kennedy was single and lived in Hyde Park.
Also killed was Lt. Edward J. Walsh, Jr., 43. He was assigned to Engine Company 33 on Boylston Street. He was a 9 and a half year veteran of the department. He was the son of a Watertown firefighter. Walsh was married with three children under the age of 10. He lived in West Roxbury.
Finn says he has never seen a fire travel so fast and escalate so quickly and he believes that was because of strong winds off the nearby Charles River. He says firefighters rescued people from the upper floors of the multi-unit building in the Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday. No civilians were hurt.
Finn says Walsh and Kennedy went inside the building and then into the basement, where it appears the fire started. They called a mayday two or three minutes after entering but couldn't be saved.
The fire started Wednesday afternoon in the four-story building in the densely populated Back Bay neighborhood. Smoke and flames fanned by strong winds poured from the roof and windows for hours.
Councilor Josh Zakim represents the area and confirms the firefighters' deaths.
Major thoroughfare Storrow Drive was shut down for a time, and people were asked to stay out of the area. Boston EMS says at least 18 people were taken to hospitals.
There are no reports of brownstone residents missing, and it appears everyone who was inside escaped.
An assistant district attorney is headed to the scene, standard procedure in cases in which there are serious or potentially life-threatening injuries or deaths.
Despite strong winds and cold temperatures, people gathered to watch firefighters work from outside the building.
"The smoke was unbelievable," said Kayla Dasilva, who lives a few blocks away and went with her roommate to see what was happening.
There will be an investigation. But Finn says all indications are the fire was accidental