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Thread: Mass. Firefighter Missing, Killed in Farmhouse Fire

  1. #1
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    Mass. Firefighter Missing, Killed in Farmhouse Fire

    Mass. Firefighter Missing, Killed in Farmhouse Fire

    ASSOCIATED PRESS


    LANCASTER, Mass. (AP) -- A firefighter apparently trapped in the basement of a burning wood-frame building died in the flames early Saturday. Three other firefighters were injured, one seriously.

    At least two explosions forced firefighters to evacuate around 5 a.m., but Martin McNamara, 31, did not make it out.

    Firefighters went back for McNamara, but found only his helmet. His body was recovered later.

    State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said the cause of the fire was unclear, but that the second explosion may have been caused by a natural gas leak.

    McNamara, the father of two children, had been on the force in Lancaster, about 35 miles west of Boston, for three years.

    "Marty was the kind of son that every father and mother would ever want,'' said his father, also named Martin. "I guess the only consolation we can take from it is that he died doing something that he loved to do.''

    The younger McNamara is also survived by his wife, who is pregnant.


    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...8&sectionId=39

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    Massachusetts Firefighter Falls In Inferno

    Massachusetts Firefighter Falls In Inferno


    LAUREL J. SWEET
    Courtesy of Boston Herald

    LANCASTER - A doomed jake's panic alarm chirping from the fiery core of a concrete hell was enough to convince Clinton Deputy Fire Chief John McLaughlin to disregard the empty oxygen tank strapped to his back.

    Tempting suffocation in heat and smoke beneath a three-story wooden apartment house threatening to crush him, McLaughlin, 45 - a divorced father of two teens - fumbled in vain for Lancaster call firefighter Martin H. McNamara. Finally, beckoned to fresh air by brethren who could not bear to lose a second life, a near-dead "John Boy'' McLaughlin had to be physically restrained on the ground where he collapsed.

    "He was fighting them so much'' to go back in, said Clinton Fire Capt. John McNamara, whose fallen cousin, Martin, became the first Lancaster firefighter killed in the line of duty in the town's 350-year history.

    "They could hear (Martin McNamara's) PASS device,'' John McNamara said of the body motion detector that sounds when a firefighter is down, "but they couldn't get to him. They just couldn't. From what I hear, the basement was overloaded with storage. Everything lit up and came crashing down.''

    McLaughlin, who suffered smoke inhalation and exhaustion, remained hospitalized and sedated last night in serious condition.

    Two other Clinton firefighters who'd been in the cellar, Terry Parker, 44, and Edward McNamara, 49, no relation to the deceased, escaped the early morning inferno that gutted a seven-family residence at 76 Mill St. and fortified the uncommon bond between two neighboring Central Massachusetts towns whose combined populations barely approach 20,000.

    Flags were lowered to half-staff in both communities.

    Martin McNamara, who shared a modest, charming home in Clinton minutes from the deadly blaze with his pregnant wife, Claire, and two daughters, ages 2 and 5, lived to see his 31st birthday Friday, but was waiting to celebrate the birth of his third child, due to arrive today.

    Martin McNamara was a three-year veteran and one of 33 Lancaster call firefighters. "A firefighter was all he ever wanted to be,'' John McNamara said.

    Claire McNamara, a nail beautician who'd lovingly decorated their Maple Street home for Christmas, was in seclusion yesterday at the Clinton home of her husband's parents, Martin, a manager for Weetabix Cereal and former Clinton selectman, and Joanne McNamara, a nurse at Clinton Hospital.

    "Obviously, we're devastated by the tragedy,'' a visibly shell-shocked Martin McNamara told reporters outside the house where his son perished. "If there's any consolation we can take from this, it's that he died doing something he loved.''

    While the cause of the wind-fed catastrophe remained undetermined last night, state Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said authorities were investigating reports of a "series of explosions'' occurring shortly after 3:15 a.m.

    The white, gold and black dwelling had gas heat, according to residents and neighbors, but Coan cautioned there was no immediate reason to think gas was to blame.

    "The initial report was for smoke in the basement with fire stretching to the first floor,'' Coan said. "There was some kind of internal explosion that caused the fire to rapidly spread and there were reports of blue flame. The conditions turned very, very bad.''

    Martin McNamara, he said, "just succumbed to the heat and fire conditions and the disorientation that occurs in a situation like that.''

    Ironically, disorientation and being woken from a sound sleep is what Lamont Plowden, 26, a private high school history teacher, credits with saving his life.

    Plowden, standing 6 feet, 5 inches tall in borrowed clothes and cradling a box of Nature Valley granola bars, said he was awakened by "a boom'' that shook his bed.

    Opening his apartment door and seeing the coast to the stairwell was clear, he ran back to his bed to grab his nylon Ralph Lauren Polo winter jacket. But during the estimated 15 seconds that elapsed, smoke blocked his escape and began seeping through the walls. Plowden ran to a fire escape and got out unharmed along with his fellow tenants.

    The first time he saw flames, he said, they were a reflection in the windows of the house next door.

    "I'm alive,'' he said, staring back at his former home with a bittersweet smile. "Everything else that got burned, I'll get by.''

    John McNamara said, true to form, his late cousin was suited up and ready for action outside 76 Mill St. when Clinton firefighters arrived on scene. And when McLaughlin, Edward McNamara and Parker ran headlong into the burning basement with a hose, "Marty'' McNamara picked up the slack and tagged behind.

    But once down below, "They knew they were in trouble,'' John McNamara said. "(McLaughlin) yelled, `Everybody out!' but the conditions deteriorated so fast that they got broken up.''

    John McNamara said the men "were seconds from death'' and McLaughlin, separated from the others, had made his way to the wrong staircase.

    "Ed McNamara was screaming, `John Boy, we're over here!' '' he said, wiping away tears. "Right now we're just hoping he makes it.''


    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=46&id=22668

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    Hundreds Gather To Mourn Fallen Firefighter

    Hundreds Gather To Mourn Fallen Firefighter
    Family, Friends, Firefighters Honor McNamara

    Story by Boston Channel

    CLINTON, Mass. -- Hundreds of firefighters from across the state gathered in Clinton Tuesday to pay their final respects to a fallen firefighter.

    Marty McNamara, 31, was battling the flames at a Lancaster multi-family home on Saturday when he became trapped in the basement. NewsCenter 5's Jack Harper reported that a group of several hundred mourners gathered and honored the young hero.

    Tuesday's funeral Mass was held at St. John the Evangelist Church in Clinton, McNamara's home parish.

    Last Friday, he was picking out a Christmas tree with his daughters, Molly and Elizabeth. On Tuesday, their mother, Claire, and others were saying good bye.

    McNamara's friend, Fran Garrity, delivered a eulogy.

    "Claire, you were the love of his life. It was so obvious to all of us from your high school years that you would be together forever.

    "It is so fitting that firefighting was what Marty really loved. He joined a group of men that were assembled to save lives. Unfortunately, God has decided to take Marty's life, while he ensured that others were saved. Now, we are left with Marty's memories. It is only our faith in God that will get us through this unexplainable loss."

    "Dear God, please accept Marty to your kingdom and watch over his family, friends, and fellow firefighters. Help us all to remember what he stood for, not only today, but everyday in the future. Bye-bye, Mac, we love you, we'll miss you and we'll never forget you."

    Among those in attendance Tuesday was a delegation from the Worcester fire department who lost six men in a tragic warehouse fire four years ago.

    McNamara was buried Tuesday in Lancaster.


    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=46&id=22679

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    Bad Wiring Suspected In Blaze That Killed Firefighter

    Bad Wiring Suspected In Blaze That Killed Firefighter


    TOM FARMER
    Courtesy of The Boston Herald

    The deadly fire that killed a Lancaster firefighter began in the basement where he perished Saturday, and investigators are looking at wiring as a possible cause, sources said yesterday.

    "It started in an area where you would typically find wiring,'' said one source close to the investigation. "Based on interviews (with residents of the Mill Street building), there may have been some Mickey Mouse things done in terms of extension cords and things like that.''

    Services will be held today for volunteer firefighter Martin "Marty'' McNamara, 31, who died in the smoke-filled basement of the seven-unit apartment building early Saturday, leaving a pregnant wife and two young daughters. Three other firefighters were injured in the blaze.

    McNamara, who lived in Clinton, was waked yesterday at the Philbin Comeau Funeral Home and he will be buried today with full Fire Department honors following a funeral Mass at 11 a.m. in St. John's Church in Clinton.

    Firefighters were on all three floors of the large wood-frame building when flames began shooting over the heads of four firefighters in the basement, investigators said.

    Three Clinton firefighters were able to escape the junk-filled basement but McNamara was trapped. Clinton Deputy Fire Chief John McLaughlin, who tried to rescue McNamara, remains hospitalized.

    Sources said the fire apparently started in an area between the basement ceiling and the first floor, surprising the men in the basement with a sudden mass of flames and smoke.

    "The firefighters in the basement didn't see any flames and then all of a sudden it was blowing over their heads,'' said the source. "That puts the fire between the basement and the first floor.''


    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=39&id=22664

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    Grieving For A Hero: Firefighters' Widows Gather To Help Devastated Family

    Grieving For A Hero: Firefighters' Widows Gather To Help Devastated Family


    THOMAS CAYWOOD and JENNIFER ROSINSKI
    Courtesy of Boston Herald

    Standing a few yards from where her volunteer firefighter husband died in a wind-whipped house inferno, Claire McNamara doubled over in unimaginable grief yesterday.

    The new widow, whose third baby is due any day, could stand the sight of the gutted apartment house only briefly - its rafters exposed like a charred skeleton - before she rushed into the arms of a woman bystanders identified as an old friend.

    "The minute she is ready we are waiting for her,'' said Michelle Lucey, speaking for herself and the four other widows of the 1999 Worcester cold storage fire.

    Lucey didn't know Martin "Marty Mac'' McNamara, who died early Saturday hours after his 31st birthday, but she knows Claire McNamara's pain all too well. Fire claimed her husband Jeremiah and five other Worcester firefighters on Dec. 3, 1999.

    "The minute I heard about the Lancaster fire my heart saddened for the people who are left behind with the burden of pain I have to live with and my children have to live with,'' she said.

    In Lancaster, Claire McNamara held her friend tightly and sobbed uncontrollably yesterday for a full minute before they slipped into separate cars and drove off. The grieving widow left with her husband's parents, Martin and Joanne McNamara of Clinton, to plan the funeral.

    The firefighter widows who came to Lucey's side after the Worcester fire helped her realize she had to move on with her life - for herself and her two sons.

    "When your husband is taken away you feel like everything is over,'' Lucey said. "It gives you hope seeing that other people have gone through it and made it through.''

    Meanwhile, Clinton Deputy Fire Chief John McLaughlin, who was overcome by smoke trying to reach McNamara in the blazing basement, remained hospitalized yesterday in stable condition with thermal burns and smoke inhalation, State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said.

    "He will be there for some time,'' Coan said. Two other Clinton firefighters were treated and released from a local hospital Saturday.

    Lancaster volunteer firefighter Michael Hanson, who had served as McNamara's training officer when he first joined the department three years ago, yesterday recalled his fallen comrade as an easy-going guy with a great sense of humor.

    "He'll be remembered as a great guy, a great firefighter,'' Hanson told reporters. "He always thought about his kids and wife, and he loved doing this job.''

    Hanson said his fellow Lancaster call firefighters are leaning on each other to get through the tragic loss of their brother jake.

    "Be there for each other, that's all we can really do,'' he said.

    McNamara is survived by children Molli, 5, and Elizabeth, 2. Claire McNamara, a nail beautician and high school cheerleading coach, is nine months pregnant with the couple's third child.

    Throughout the day yesterday, red-eyed Lancaster volunteer firefighters stood silently on the street in front of the gutted three-story house on Mill Street while residents of Lancaster and Clinton drifted up to the scene to pay their respects.

    "He was an athlete and a loving father,'' recalled Jack Gorman of Clinton, who coached a young McNamara on Clinton's Legion baseball team.

    "It's a shock. It's a tragedy,'' Gorman said. "He was just such a great kid. It was always about somebody else, never himself.''

    Funeral services for McNamara will be held tomorrow at 11 a.m. at Saint John's Church in Clinton. Calling hours are today from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Philbin Comeau Funeral Home in Clinton.

    The family has established The Martin ``Marty'' McNamara Memorial Fund at Leominster Credit Union in Clinton.


    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=46&id=22666

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