WORCESTER, Mass. (AP/WHDH) — A Massachusetts city is paying tribute to six firefighters who died battling a blaze in a vacant warehouse 20 years ago.
Current and retired Worcester firefighters, a color guard and band marched to the Franklin Street fire station at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
A memorial ceremony scheduled to start at 6 p.m. featured remarks by Mayor Joseph Petty, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Fire Chief Michael Lavoie, City Manager Edward Augustus Jr., and actor Denis Leary, a Worcester native.
Lt. Thomas Spencer, Lt. James Lyons, Paul Brotherton, Timothy Jackson, Jeremiah Lucey and Joseph McGuirk lost their lives looking for homeless people believed to be inside the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. building on Dec. 3, 1999.
The dispatch call that came in 20 years ago, sending the six on their mission, played right at 6:13 p.m.
“The memories, they just come flooding back,” Lavoie said. “It’s really really tough. 20 years later it’s like it happened yesterday.”
Lucey was Leary’s cousin, and Spencer was a childhood friend.
“We honor their devotion to duty and the seven sons who have followed in their fathers’ footsteps, to serve this community as Worcester firefighters,” Leary said. “That is the greatest tribute of all.”
The actor is also honoring the firefighters with a five-part documentary. Part one is available on the Leary Firefighters Foundation website.
Hundreds of people lined the streets as the procession made its way to the warehouse site on Franklin Street that has been converted into a fire station.
Steps that have unfortunately become all too familiar for the Worcester Fire Department.
“To lose one firefighter is a tragedy,” Augustus said. “To lose six firefighters on one night is almost unthinkable.”
Tragically, the list of Worcester firefighters killed in the line of duty would only grow.
Firefighter Jon Davies was killed while rushing into a burning building in 2011, Christopher Roy was killed last December and Lt. Jason Menard was killed in action less than a month ago while heroically saving his fellow firefighters.
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