'Heroic' Worcester fire fighter dies saving fellow responders during blaze in Massachusetts, US
A Worcester, Massachusetts, fire lieutenant died early on Wednesday, 13 November 2019, as he and his crew responded to report of a trapped baby during a raging fire at an apartment building. Chief Michael Lavoie said Lieutenant Jason Menard, a 39-year-old husband and father of three, died of his injuries after his "heroic efforts" to save people in the four-alarm fire at 7 Stockholm Street. Lavoie said fire authorities received reports of a baby trapped on the third floor of the building as well as a report of a trapped resident around 1h00. Menard "heroically" and "selflessly" helped a probationary fire fighter to the stairs before returning into the flames to help another fire fighter escape out the window, Lavoie said.
"He was a passionate fire officer who loved being a fire fighter. He took his job very seriously, performed it admirably and his dedication to the residents of Worcester was unwavering," he said.
Four fire fighters, including Menard, were transported to a local hospital from the scene. One fire fighter remains in serious but stable condition. Two other fire fighters were treated for non-life threatening injuries and have been released.
One resident, a woman, was transported to the hospital with serious injuries. Later, city officials said all residents were accounted for and it's unclear if there was ever a baby trapped in the burning building.
"This is an extremely difficult day for the Worcester Fire Department," Lavoie said. "Lieutenant Menard’s heroic actions saved the life of one of his crew members." Fire fighters and other officials remembered Menard as being passionate about his job. "This is a tragic day for the Worcester Fire Department and the City of Worcester," said Mayor Joseph M Petty. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lieutenant Menard’s family."
The Menard family was scheduled to depart for a vacation to Disney World after his shift ended on Wednesday, according to Michael Papagni, president of the city fire fighters' union. "They are now instead planning a hero's sendoff," he said.
About 15 residents were displaced by the blaze. Officials could not immediately say whether a baby was among those displaced. The cause of the blaze is not yet known. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were investigating at the scene of the fire while local fire authorities continued to battle hot spots.
The blaze, reported sometime around 1h00, left the building badly damaged. Neighbour John Welch said he ran out of his own home when he heard banging on his door. He then saw his neighbours running from the burning structure. "I looked up and saw the smoke coming out of the second floor window. Five minutes later the whole second floor was fully involved," Welch recalled. "These people literally had nothing on their backs."
Kathy Desrosiers, who lives across the street, said she opened up her home to some of the residents who were cold after they escaped with no socks or shoes on their feet. "I don't know why people wouldn't. A little ounce of humanity today goes a long way," she said.
Conditions were difficult for fire fighters as they not only battled the blaze but also the biting cold. Several departments assisted in the response.
The fire department in Worcester, the state's second largest city, has seen its share of tragedy. Menard's death comes less than a year after the on-duty of death of Worcester firefighter Christopher Roy and about a month before the 20th anniversary of the deaths of six Worcester fire fighters in a warehouse blaze in December 1999.
In December 2011, fire fighter Jon Davies Sr died while battling a house fire.
Governor Charlie Baker ordered all US flags and state flags be lowered to half-staff at all state buildings out of respect for Menard until further notice.
Source: NBC Boston