Two firefighters killed in Boston roof collapse inferno
Two firefighters were killed as a result of injuries of suffered at a 4-alarm fire at the Tai Ho Mandarin and Cantonese Cuisine Restaurant on Wednesday night. Two other firefighters were on life support, but their status has been upgraded and at least 10 others were injured.
The grease fire began at around 9 p.m. at the restaurant, located at 1727 Centre St. in West Roxbury.
The two firefighters killed in the blaze were Paul J. Cahill, 55, of Scituate and Warren J. Payne, 53, of Canton. Both were veterans of the Boston Fire Department. They were the first two deaths of Boston firefighters in a fire since 1994.
Engine 30, Ladder 25, which is near the restaurant, was the first to respond. The fire had been smoldering in the ceiling for at least a hour before firefighters were called. At first, firefighters believed that this was just a minor fire. But when the three-ton air conditioning unit started falling through the roof, it provided enough oxygen to ignite the flames. The burning ceiling fell down onto the firefighters and the kitchen filled with heavy smoke.
An unnamed source close to the investigation says one firefighter was crushed and another burned to death.
Over 100 firefighters reponsed to this blaze.
This is not the first time the restaurant has been the scene of a fire. Sources report that there was a fire at Tai Ho 30 years ago that damaged the kitchen and dining room. The restaurant was under different management at the time.
At least six other businesses in the area were also damaged during Wednesday night's fire, including the L’Essence Art Gallery, The Ferns flower shop and the Continental Shoppe - a dog kennel. All of the dogs were removed from the kennel unharmed.
The fire is now under investigation.
“Tonight is a very sad night for the city of Boston,” Mayor Thomas Menino said. “Two of our bravest have lost their lives in a fire in West Roxbury. Our prayers and offers of help are extended to the families of those two firefighters and the other firefighters who were injured in the line of duty. This is a dangerous job, and these firefighters answered the call.”
At a late-night news conference the mayor and fire officials said both firefighters had two children and asked for prayers for the families.
Fire Chief Kevin MacCurtain said the most seriously injured were members of the first crew that responded.
“When they arrived they had heavy fire in the Chinese restaurant with heavy smoke conditions on the block,” MacCurtain said. “They advanced their lines into the store, and they became trapped and they were disoriented and they couldn’t find their way out.”
Early Thursday, several blocks from the fire, the Engine 30, Ladder 25 firehouse was mostly dark, with a U.S. flag flying at half-staff in front of the building.
One block of Centre Street was closed as the sun rose over the blackened building. Several fire trucks and two cranes remained at the scene, as someone surveyed the damage from above.
Shirley Walsh of Kalembar Dune wants people to know that some of the West Roxbury business owners are putting together a fundraiser in September to raise money for the firefighters’ families and the business owners who were stricken at Wednesday night’s fire on Centre Street. The event will take place from 7 p.m. to midnight on Friday, Sept. 21 at Moseley’s on the Charles, 50 Bridge St., Dedham.
For further information, call Shirley at 617-413-7782 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.