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Worcester mourns deaths of 6 firefighters

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Jim Smith

BOSTON — Search efforts continued Tuesday at the site of last Friday’s tragic blaze in Worcester, Mass., that killed six firefighters. As the Echo went to press Tuesday, only one of the bodies had been recovered from the burned-out warehouse.

The search for the remaining five firefighters was suspended for eight hours Monday because of fear that an unstable firewall might collapse on rescuers in the still-smoldering building.

The fire started in the abandoned warehouse around 6 p.m. in this central Massachusetts city of 170,000. After receiving reports that several homeless people might be inside, about 28 firefighters entered the five-story structure while others doused it from outside.

Within seconds, the building became an inferno. Firefighters were ordered to a stairwell for a headcount. Two firefighters, Jeremiah Lucey, 38, and 41-year-old Paul Brotherton, were missing, having become lost in a maze of darkness and thick smoke.

Two rescue teams of two men were sent back in to rescue their two comrades, who had radioed for help. Those four men also quickly became engulfed in black, boiling smoke. All six of the men perished.

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In addition to Lucey and Brotherton, the victims include Thomas Spencer, 42, James Lyons, 34, Joseph McGuirk, 38, and Timothy Jackson, 51.

Fire officials concluded on Monday that, contrary to initial reports, there were no homeless people in the building when the fire started.

Fifteen children, including six sons of firefighter Brotherton, will be without fathers this Christmas as a result of the tragedy.

Two of the firefighters, Lucey and Lyons, had been to Ireland earlier this year. Lyons visited his ancestral homeland of Louisburg, Co. Mayo. Lucey’s sister, Noreen, told reporters that Jeremiah was "very proud of his Irish heritage."

Lt. John Sullivan, speaking to reporters Monday, expressed gratitude for the tremendous outpouring of support that the grieving firefighters and families have received. "Our concerns are with the families of our brothers who went down in the building. I want you to keep them in your prayers. Pray for us and for all the firefighters across the nation and the world."

A fund has been established to help the families of the victims. Donations can be sent to Firefighters Fund, c/o Flagship Bank, 120 Front St., Worcester, MA 01608.

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