Menino honors firefighters who helped save Roxbury boy; suspect pleads not guilty

Reporter Brian R. Ballou talks about the emotional reunion today between a firefighter and the 6-year-old boy he rescued from a burning building.

A 6-year-old Boston boy was reunited today with the veteran firefighter who is credited with saving his life by catching him after he was dropped from a third-floor window as flames closed in, and Mayor Thomas Menino praised the quick work of the rescuers.

“I’m just so thankful that he was able to catch him,’’ said Judith Lamb, grandmother of the boy, Xavier Lara. She dropped him to firefighter Glenn McGillivray in the Monday morning blaze in Roxbury.


The reunion came the same day that the suspect in the fire, Mohamed Abdul Jabar, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in his hospital bed at Massachusetts General Hospital. The 28-year-old Medford man faces arson and other charges in the six-alarm fire that tore through about 26 apartments on Westminster Avenue and Wardman Street.

Bail was set at $100,000. Authorities have said Jabar, who suffered third-degree burns, might have been trying to take his life when he triggered a massive explosion inside a relative’s unit.

During the arraignment, Jabar’s lawyer carefully placed a blanket over his legs to cover him. The defendant, a native of Somalia, listened closely to an interpreter and shifted his legs and adjusted bandages on his hands often.

Meanwhile, at Boston Fire House 42, Menino handed out commendations to McGillivray and about a dozen other firefighters who responded to the blaze. In addition to saving the boy, firefighters rescued an estimated 15 people over fire ladders, including Judith Lamb.

“This is a day we want to say thank you not just to Lieutenant McGillivray for what he’s done, with Xavier here, but all the firefighters who answered that call that evening. … They did a remarkable job,’’ Menino said.


Meanwhile, Urban Edge, the Boston-based community development non-profit that owns the Wardman Apartments, has set up a link for donations to those who have lost their homes or have lost their belongings in the disaster.

The non-profit said donors should select the Wardman Emergency Fire Relief Fund in the donation category pull-down menu on its webpage. The link can be found here.

The apparent detonation of the gas blew out one wall of the U-shaped apartment building and sent heavy black smoke through all three floors. Awakened by the noise of the explosion, Lara’s family, including Lamb, sought to escape through the windows of the apartment.

Clambering out of the third-floor window to keep him away from the smoke and flames, Lamb saw people below and dropped the boy whom McGillivray caught.

In interviews on Tuesday, other residents told the Globe’s Brian Ballou about their own tales of heroism and how strangers became neighbors during a major crisis.

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