A Worcester firefighter died and three others were injured as they battled a four-alarm blaze that engulfed a triple-decker home early Wednesday morning.
Lt. Jason Menard, 39, was killed as he and his crew from Ladder 5 searched the third floor at 7 Stockholm St. for a resident with a baby reportedly trapped in the flames, Worcester Fire Chief Michael Lavoie said.
Menard and three firefighters were brought to UMass Medical Center, officials said. Two have been released while a third is in serious but stable condition, Lavoie told reporters.
A second-floor fire was first reported around 12:58 a.m., with additional reports indicating a baby was potentially on the third floor, he said.
Crews encountered heavy fire conditions on arrival, as the blaze spread to the third floor.
Menard and Ladder 5 were searching for the reported baby and resident in the building when they became trapped on the third floor, Lavoie said.
“Lt. Menard heroically and selflessly saved his crew, helping a probationary firefighter to the stairs, and returning to rescue another trapped firefighter, assisting him out the window,” Lavoie said at a press conference. “Fire conditions overtook the third floor at this time and Lt. Menard was unable to escape.”
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Lavoie said firefighters “made courageous and valiant efforts” to reach Menard, but high winds and an unseasonably frigid night complicated the attempted rescue.
One woman was brought to the hospital with serious injuries, officials said in a statement. All other occupants were accounted for and no other resident injuries have been reported.
Menard, a Worcester resident, had served in the department since 2010, officials said. He was assigned to Ladder 5, Group 2 at the McKeon Road Fire Station and leaves behind his wife, Tina; three children; and his parents.
“He was a passionate fire officer who absolutely loved being a firefighter,” Lavoie said. “He took his job very seriously, performed it admirably, and his dedication to the residents of Worcester was unwavering.”
— Scott MacEachern (@smaceachernNBC) November 13, 2019
Menard’s death comes just a month before the one-year anniversary of the fire that claimed the life of Worcester firefighter Christopher Roy, a 36-year-old single father. Twenty-two-year-old Momoh Kamara, of West Boylston, was charged earlier this year with second-degree murder and arson in connection to the Dec. 9, 2018 blaze.
Worcester is also approaching the eighth anniversary of the death of Jon Davies, Sr., 43, killed in the line of duty on December 8, 2011. And just hours before last night’s deadly blaze, the city on Tuesday detailed plans to commemorate the six firefighters killed while battling a cold storage fire 20 years ago in December 1999.
Mayor Joseph Petty called Menard’s death “a devastating loss” made especially poignant amid the backdrop of the upcoming anniversaries.
“The circumstances have become all too familiar to us: a cold night, one of our three-decker neighborhoods, a fire, and a death of one of Worcester’s bravest,” Petty said. “Every day our firefighters selflessly risk their lives without a second thought.”
This morning, I’m deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Worcester Fire Lt. Jason Menard, who lost his life battling last night’s fire on Stockholm Street, and the injury of 3 other brave firefighters.
— Charlie Baker (@MassGovernor) November 13, 2019
The cause of Wednesday’s fire is under investigation by the fire department, Worcester Police Department, and the state police assigned to both the state Fire Marshal’s Office and the Worcester County District Attorney’s office.
The Boston Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives was on scene later in the morning, the agency said on Twitter.
Firefighter Michael Papagni, president of Worcester Firefighters Local 1009 said Menard “had a true passion for the job and he will be missed.”
Menard had planned to leave on vacation with his family Wednesday morning, he said.
“As they had planned this morning to be on a trip to Disney, they are now instead planning a hero’s send-off,” Papagni said. “And as always, our Worcester firefighters will stand strong by that family and we will send off Jason as he deserved and he earned.”