WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) – A non-profit organization launched a major fundraising effort on Friday to help pay off the mortgage for the family of a Worcester fire lieutenant who died earlier this week after “heroically and selflessly” saving his comrades from a four-alarm blaze that engulfed a multi-family home.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation is asking the public for help raising money for Lt. Jason Menard’s wife Tina and his three children.
Menard and his team entered a burning home at 7 Stockholm St. around 1 a.m. on Wednesday in search of a reported trapped resident and baby, Worcester Fire Chief Michael Lavoie said.
The firefighters from Ladder 5 gained entry into the third floor, where they became trapped by raging flames. The flames overtook the third floor and Menard was unable to escape because he put the lives of his crew members before his own.
“Lt. Menard heroically and selflessly saved his crew, helping a probationary firefighter to the stairs and then returning to rescue another trapped firefighter, assisting him out the window,” Lavoie said.
The cause of the Stockholm Street fire is under investigation.
On Friday, fellow Lt. Michael Papagni spoke of how thankful he was for Menard’s great sacrifice.
“Because of that, another firefighter, Chris Pace, will be there to see the birth of his second child,” Papagni said.
Tunnel to Towers, established in memory of fallen 9/11 firefighter Stephen Siller, supports the families of fallen military and first responders who are lost in the line of duty.
“Just like Lt. Menard did, he went back up the stairs, and in doing so, he gave up his life,” Tunnel to Towers CEO Frank Siller said of Stephen Tiller. “So at the foundation, we want to honor that sacrifice.”
The foundation, which has helped pay off 50 mortgages in 2019, hopes to have enough money raised for the Menard family by Christmas.
They plan to start off the campaign with $100,000 but the public’s help is needed to raise additional money.
In 2018, the foundation supported the family of fallen Weymouth Police Sgt. Michael Chesna.
Michael’s Chesna’s wife, Cindy, was on hand to show support for the Menard family.
“You just go to bed one night and then you wake up and your life is completely turned upside down,” Cindy Chesna said.
She also said that the foundation’s generosity has allowed her to focus on her children as they cope with the loss of their father.
“Just take it day by day. The pain is always there, always you’ll always feel it,” she added. “But take help from your family, the support around you, and go day by day.”
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