WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) - A Worcester fire lieutenant died after “heroically and selflessly” saving his crew from a four-alarm blaze that engulfed a home hours before he was supposed to leave on a Disney vacation with his family.
Lt. Jason Menard and his team entered a burning home at 7 Stockholm St. around 1 a.m. on Wednesday in search for a reported trapped resident and baby, according to Worcester Fire Chief Michael Lavoie.
The firefighters gained entry into the third floor, where they became trapped by heavy fire conditions.
“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 flames overtook the third floor and Menard was unable to escape, Lavoie added.
“Firefighters on scene made courageous and valiant efforts under heavy fire conditions, complicated by extreme weather, including high winds and cold temperatures, to rescue Lt. Menard,” Lavoie continued.
Menard and three other firefighters were transported to UMass Medical Center, where Menard was pronounced dead. Two firefighters have since been released from the hospital, while the third remains in serious but stable condition.
A woman was also transported to the hospital with serious injuries. Her current condition has not been released. All other occupants have been accounted for and no other civilian injuries have been reported.
The American Red Cross says the blaze left about 15 people displaced.
“This is a tragic day for the Worcester Fire Department and the City of Worcester,” Mayor Joseph M. Petty said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lieutenant Menard’s family.”
The 39-year-old lieutenant, who has served on the Worcester Fire Department since 2010, leaves behind a wife and three children. They had planned to head to Disney on Wednesday morning, according to Michael Papagni, president of the Worcester Firefighters Local 109.
“He was a passionate fire officer who absolutely loved being a firefighter,” Lavoie said. “He took his job very seriously, performed it admirably, and his dedication to the residents of Worcester was unwavering.”
City Manager Edward M. Augustus added, “Our hearts are heavy this morning as we learned of the devastating loss of Lieutenant Menard. On behalf of the entire City of Worcester, I wish to offer condolences to the Menard family, Chief Lavoie and the entire Worcester Fire Department.”
“I’m deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Worcester Fire Lt. Jason Menard,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “Our hearts break for his family, loved ones and the entire community.”
Attorney General Maura Healey also said in a statement, “The people of Worcester have suffered another heartbreaking loss. Lt. Jason Menard was a dedicated firefighter who died courageously on the front lines protecting his community. As a fire department that has faced unspeakable loss and sacrifice in the line of duty, we will continue to honor the bravery, dedication, and sacrifices made to keep us safe. Our hearts go out to Lt. Menard’s loved ones and the three other firefighters who were injured, along with the men and women of the Worcester Fire Department and those who lost their homes in this tragic fire.”
Menard’s death comes less than a year after the on-duty death of Worcester firefighter Christopher Roy and about a month before the 20th anniversary of the deaths of six Worcester firefighters in a warehouse blaze in December 1999.
In December 2011, firefighter Jon Davies Sr. died while battling a house fire.
The cause of the Stockholm Street house fire remains under investigation.