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Boston mourns 2 firefighters killed in blaze

  • Claudine Lewis, of Boston, places flowers on a makeshift memorial in front of fire station Engine 33/Ladder 15, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Engine 33/Ladder 15 was the station of fallen firefighters Lt. Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy who lost their lives fighting a nine-alarm blaze in a four-story brownstone in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

    Claudine Lewis, of Boston, places flowers on a makeshift memorial in front of fire station Engine 33/Ladder 15, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Engine 33/Ladder 15 was the station of fallen firefighters Lt. Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy who lost their lives fighting a nine-alarm blaze in a four-story brownstone in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

  • This combination made with undated photos released by the Boston Fire Department via Twitter shows firefighters Michael R. Kennedy, left, and Lt. Edward J. Walsh, who were killed Wednesday, March 26, 2014, when trapped the basement while fighting a fire in an apartment building in Boston. Kennedy, 33, a Marine Corps combat veteran was assigned to Ladder 15, and had been a firefighter for more than six years. Walsh, 43, and a father of three, was assigned to Engine 33, and had been a firefighter for almost a decade. (AP Photo/Boston Fire Department)

    This combination made with undated photos released by the Boston Fire Department via Twitter shows firefighters Michael R. Kennedy, left, and Lt. Edward J. Walsh, who were killed Wednesday, March 26, 2014, when trapped the basement while fighting a fire in an apartment building in Boston. Kennedy, 33, a Marine Corps combat veteran was assigned to Ladder 15, and had been a firefighter for more than six years. Walsh, 43, and a father of three, was assigned to Engine 33, and had been a firefighter for almost a decade. (AP Photo/Boston Fire Department)

  • Ladders lean against burned remains of a four-story brownstone, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Two firefighters, Lt. Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy, lost their lives fighting a nine-alarm blaze that destroyed the structure in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

    Ladders lean against burned remains of a four-story brownstone, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Two firefighters, Lt. Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy, lost their lives fighting a nine-alarm blaze that destroyed the structure in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

  • A firefighter pauses between cars near the burned remains of a four-story brownstone, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Two firefighters, Lt. Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy, lost their lives fighting a nine-alarm blaze that destroyed the structure in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

    A firefighter pauses between cars near the burned remains of a four-story brownstone, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Two firefighters, Lt. Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy, lost their lives fighting a nine-alarm blaze that destroyed the structure in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

  • Erin Defuria, of Boston, is emotional after placing flowers at a makeshift memorial in the front of fire station Engine 33/Ladder 15, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Engine 33/Ladder 15 was the station of fallen firefighters Lt. Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy who lost their lives fighting a nine-alarm blaze in a four-story brownstone in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

    Erin Defuria, of Boston, is emotional after placing flowers at a makeshift memorial in the front of fire station Engine 33/Ladder 15, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Engine 33/Ladder 15 was the station of fallen firefighters Lt. Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy who lost their lives fighting a nine-alarm blaze in a four-story brownstone in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

  • Emergency medical technician David Stewart places flowers at a makeshift memorial on the front of fire station Engine 33/Ladder 15, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Engine 33/Ladder 15 was the station of fallen firefighters Lt. Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy,  who lost their lives fighting a nine-alarm blaze in a four-story brownstone in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

    Emergency medical technician David Stewart places flowers at a makeshift memorial on the front of fire station Engine 33/Ladder 15, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Engine 33/Ladder 15 was the station of fallen firefighters Lt. Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy, who lost their lives fighting a nine-alarm blaze in a four-story brownstone in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

  • Boston firefighters work a multi-alarm brownstone fire, Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Boston. A Boston city councilor said two firefighters have died in a fire that ripped through the brownstone. (AP Photo/The Boston Herald, Christopher Evans) BOSTON GLOBE OUT; METRO BOSTON OUT; MAGAZINES OUT; ONLINE OUT.

    Boston firefighters work a multi-alarm brownstone fire, Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Boston. A Boston city councilor said two firefighters have died in a fire that ripped through the brownstone. (AP Photo/The Boston Herald, Christopher Evans) BOSTON GLOBE OUT; METRO BOSTON OUT; MAGAZINES OUT; ONLINE OUT.

  • In this photo made Wednesday night, March 26, 2014, firefighters salute the medical examiner's truck carrying the body of one of two firefighters killed when a fire driven by strong winds whipped through a four-story apartment building in Boston and trapped them in the basement. (AP Photo/Boston Herald, Matt West) BOSTON GLOBE OUT. METRO BOSTON NEWSPAPER OUT. MAGS OUT. ONLINE OUT.

    In this photo made Wednesday night, March 26, 2014, firefighters salute the medical examiner's truck carrying the body of one of two firefighters killed when a fire driven by strong winds whipped through a four-story apartment building in Boston and trapped them in the basement. (AP Photo/Boston Herald, Matt West) BOSTON GLOBE OUT. METRO BOSTON NEWSPAPER OUT. MAGS OUT. ONLINE OUT.

  • Somerville, Mass. firefighter Earl Johnson places flowers at a makeshift memorial on the front of fire station Engine 33, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Fire station Engine 33 was the station of fallen firefighters Lt. Edward J. Walsh and Michael R. Kennedy who lost their lives fighting a 9-alarm fire in a four-story brownstone in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

    Somerville, Mass. firefighter Earl Johnson places flowers at a makeshift memorial on the front of fire station Engine 33, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Fire station Engine 33 was the station of fallen firefighters Lt. Edward J. Walsh and Michael R. Kennedy who lost their lives fighting a 9-alarm fire in a four-story brownstone in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

  • A baseball cap with a written tribute to fallen Boston firefighter Michael Kennedy rests at a makeshift memorial in front of fire station Engine 33, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Fire station Engine 33 was the station of fallen firefighters Kennedy and Lt. Edward Walsh and who lost their lives fighting a 9-alarm fire in a four-story brownstone in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

    A baseball cap with a written tribute to fallen Boston firefighter Michael Kennedy rests at a makeshift memorial in front of fire station Engine 33, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Fire station Engine 33 was the station of fallen firefighters Kennedy and Lt. Edward Walsh and who lost their lives fighting a 9-alarm fire in a four-story brownstone in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

  • This undated photo released by the Boston Fire Department via Twitter shows firefighter Michael R. Kennedy, killed Wednesday, March 26, 2014, when trapped the basement while fighting a fire in an apartment building in Boston. Kennedy, 33, a Marine Corps combat veteran was assigned to Ladder 15, and had been a firefighter for more than six years. (AP Photo/Boston Fire Department)

    This undated photo released by the Boston Fire Department via Twitter shows firefighter Michael R. Kennedy, killed Wednesday, March 26, 2014, when trapped the basement while fighting a fire in an apartment building in Boston. Kennedy, 33, a Marine Corps combat veteran was assigned to Ladder 15, and had been a firefighter for more than six years. (AP Photo/Boston Fire Department)

  • This undated photo released by the Boston Fire Department via Twitter shows Lt. Edward J. Walsh, killed Wednesday, March 26, 2014, when trapped in the basement while fighting a fire in an apartment building in Boston. Walsh, 43, and a father of three, was assigned to Engine 33, and had been a firefighter for almost a decade. (AP Photo/Boston Fire Department)

    This undated photo released by the Boston Fire Department via Twitter shows Lt. Edward J. Walsh, killed Wednesday, March 26, 2014, when trapped in the basement while fighting a fire in an apartment building in Boston. Walsh, 43, and a father of three, was assigned to Engine 33, and had been a firefighter for almost a decade. (AP Photo/Boston Fire Department)

  • Firefighters place black bunting on the front of fire station Engine 33/Ladder 15, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Engine 33/Ladder 15 was the station of fallen firefighters Lt. Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy who lost their lives fighting a nine-alarm blaze in a four-story brownstone in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

    Firefighters place black bunting on the front of fire station Engine 33/Ladder 15, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Engine 33/Ladder 15 was the station of fallen firefighters Lt. Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy who lost their lives fighting a nine-alarm blaze in a four-story brownstone in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

  • Claudine Lewis, of Boston, places flowers on a makeshift memorial in front of fire station Engine 33/Ladder 15, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Engine 33/Ladder 15 was the station of fallen firefighters Lt. Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy who lost their lives fighting a nine-alarm blaze in a four-story brownstone in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
  • This combination made with undated photos released by the Boston Fire Department via Twitter shows firefighters Michael R. Kennedy, left, and Lt. Edward J. Walsh, who were killed Wednesday, March 26, 2014, when trapped the basement while fighting a fire in an apartment building in Boston. Kennedy, 33, a Marine Corps combat veteran was assigned to Ladder 15, and had been a firefighter for more than six years. Walsh, 43, and a father of three, was assigned to Engine 33, and had been a firefighter for almost a decade. (AP Photo/Boston Fire Department)
  • Ladders lean against burned remains of a four-story brownstone, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Two firefighters, Lt. Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy, lost their lives fighting a nine-alarm blaze that destroyed the structure in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
  • A firefighter pauses between cars near the burned remains of a four-story brownstone, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Two firefighters, Lt. Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy, lost their lives fighting a nine-alarm blaze that destroyed the structure in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
  • Erin Defuria, of Boston, is emotional after placing flowers at a makeshift memorial in the front of fire station Engine 33/Ladder 15, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Engine 33/Ladder 15 was the station of fallen firefighters Lt. Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy who lost their lives fighting a nine-alarm blaze in a four-story brownstone in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
  • Emergency medical technician David Stewart places flowers at a makeshift memorial on the front of fire station Engine 33/Ladder 15, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Engine 33/Ladder 15 was the station of fallen firefighters Lt. Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy,  who lost their lives fighting a nine-alarm blaze in a four-story brownstone in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
  • Boston firefighters work a multi-alarm brownstone fire, Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Boston. A Boston city councilor said two firefighters have died in a fire that ripped through the brownstone. (AP Photo/The Boston Herald, Christopher Evans) BOSTON GLOBE OUT; METRO BOSTON OUT; MAGAZINES OUT; ONLINE OUT.
  • In this photo made Wednesday night, March 26, 2014, firefighters salute the medical examiner's truck carrying the body of one of two firefighters killed when a fire driven by strong winds whipped through a four-story apartment building in Boston and trapped them in the basement. (AP Photo/Boston Herald, Matt West) BOSTON GLOBE OUT. METRO BOSTON NEWSPAPER OUT. MAGS OUT. ONLINE OUT.
  • Somerville, Mass. firefighter Earl Johnson places flowers at a makeshift memorial on the front of fire station Engine 33, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Fire station Engine 33 was the station of fallen firefighters Lt. Edward J. Walsh and Michael R. Kennedy who lost their lives fighting a 9-alarm fire in a four-story brownstone in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
  • A baseball cap with a written tribute to fallen Boston firefighter Michael Kennedy rests at a makeshift memorial in front of fire station Engine 33, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Fire station Engine 33 was the station of fallen firefighters Kennedy and Lt. Edward Walsh and who lost their lives fighting a 9-alarm fire in a four-story brownstone in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
  • This undated photo released by the Boston Fire Department via Twitter shows firefighter Michael R. Kennedy, killed Wednesday, March 26, 2014, when trapped the basement while fighting a fire in an apartment building in Boston. Kennedy, 33, a Marine Corps combat veteran was assigned to Ladder 15, and had been a firefighter for more than six years. (AP Photo/Boston Fire Department)
  • This undated photo released by the Boston Fire Department via Twitter shows Lt. Edward J. Walsh, killed Wednesday, March 26, 2014, when trapped in the basement while fighting a fire in an apartment building in Boston. Walsh, 43, and a father of three, was assigned to Engine 33, and had been a firefighter for almost a decade. (AP Photo/Boston Fire Department)
  • Firefighters place black bunting on the front of fire station Engine 33/Ladder 15, Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Boston. Engine 33/Ladder 15 was the station of fallen firefighters Lt. Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy who lost their lives fighting a nine-alarm blaze in a four-story brownstone in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

One was a fitness enthusiast who helped the wounded after the Boston Marathon bombings and planned to run the race himself this year. The other was a father of three young children who had firefighting in his blood.

The smoke from a wind-whipped fire had dissipated yesterday, but a palpable sadness hung over the city as tributes poured in for Michael Kennedy and Edward Walsh, the two firefighters who died after becoming trapped in a basement in a brownstone apartment building.

The cause of Wednesday’s nine-alarm fire, which also sent more than a dozen other firefighters and several police officers to hospitals, was unknown. Steve MacDonald, a fire department spokesman, said a conclusion could be months away.

Outside Engine 33/Ladder 15, the station where Walsh and Kennedy worked, people stopped to pay their respects, some crying, others praying. Flowers were draped on the fire alarm outside the brick building and piles of bouquets accumulated.

Firefighters continued their work.

“Life goes on,” Dennis Costin said as alarms went off at the station. “It’s all we can do.”

Kennedy, 33, joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2001 and was on active duty for six years, including a deployment to Iraq, before joining the fire department in 2007.

In April, he was among the first responders to the twin bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line.

“He was devastated by it. He told us about helping to hold someone together, someone with bad injuries,” said Shelley White, the general manager of Personalized Fitness, a health and wellness center where Kennedy also worked as a coach in the CrossFit Together program.

Kennedy wrote an essay to earn a spot in the marathon this year and had been training with other firefighters planning to run in the April 21 race, said Gov. Deval Patrick, who was among those who stopped by the station yesterday.

Walsh, whose three children are all younger than 10, was a devoted family man who was physically imposing yet reserved, friends said.

“He wasn’t one of these rah-rah guys, but he just had a presence about him,” said John Tobin, a Northeastern University administrator who lives near Walsh’s family in the city’s West Roxbury neighborhood.

Tobin’s son, Matthew, and Walsh’s son, Dylan, were friends and classmates at Holy Name Parish school, where they played on a basketball team together. On Sunday, Walsh and Tobin engaged in a father-child game on the court.

“We were joking about who was going to blow out his ACL first,” Tobin said.

But Tobin never heard the tall, fit Walsh talk about the dangers of his profession.

“It didn’t appear from the look of him that Ed was scared of much,” Tobin said.

Walsh, 43, grew up in Watertown, Mass., part of a family of firefighters. His late father and two uncles were firefighters in that Boston suburb, and a cousin and brother-in-law serve in the department.

The fire in the Back Bay neighborhood broke out midafternoon as an offshore storm lashed the city with strong winds, causing the flames to spread quickly, officials said.

Walsh and Kennedy were among a group of firefighters who entered the building and made their way into the basement. Within minutes, “something extraordinary happened,” prompting them to issue a mayday, said MacDonald, the fire department spokesman.

Other firefighters pulled Kennedy from the building, but he was pronounced dead at a hospital.

“We all pretty much knew Lt. Walsh was gone,” said MacDonald. But hours would pass before his body was recovered.

Most of the other injured firefighters had been discharged from hospitals by yesterday after being treated for burns and an assortment of other injuries, he said. All residents of the building escaped unharmed.

Nothing had been ruled in or out about the fire’s cause, though Deputy Chief Joseph Finn had said earlier that there was no reason to suspect foul play.

Lisa Timberlake, a spokeswoman for Boston’s Inspectional Services Department, said the building did not appear to have any serious inspection violations. The owners were fined $25 in 2012 for improper storage of trash.

Funeral arrangements for the firefighters had not yet been announced.

Kennedy, who was single, served on the board of the Boston Firefighters Burn Foundation, which raises money and offers support for victims and families at three major burn units in the city.

Phil Skrabut, a foundation board member, recalled Kennedy’s frequent visits to young burn victims at Shriners Hospital.

“He connected with the children right off the bat,” Skrabut said. “He was never intimidated by any of their injuries. He would just walk into the room and start playing with them as if he was a kid himself. He was just a very happy guy and a big kid and he had a huge, huge heart.”

Related

Firefighter killed in blaze had aided N.H. colleague

Thursday, March 27, 2014

One of the two Boston firefighters killed in a Wednesday blaze came to the aid of an injured New Hampshire firefighter just three weeks ago. Michael Kennedy was among the members of the Boston Firefighters Burn Foundation to visit Claremont Fire Department Lt. Andrew Stevens, who was burned in a March 2 house fire. They provided emotional support, gave Stevens’s … 0

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