On December 3, 1999, the vacant, six-story Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. building in Worcester, Massachusetts, was set ablaze by two homeless people knocking a lighted candle into a pile of ragged clothes.
The Worcester Fire Department responded at 6:13 p.m. to Box Alarm 1438.
The Rescue 1 team of Firefighter Paul Brotherton and Firefighter Jerry Lucey entered the building searching for occupants. Fire conditions worsened in the building at an alarmingly unexpected rate. Paul and Jerry, on the fifth floor, became disoriented in the smoke-filled building. Lost, and running low on air, they called for help. Several teams began searching for the lost fire fighters. Two teams reaching the fifth floor also found themselves disoriented in the smoke and trapped by the maze of interior walls — Lieutenant Tom Spencer and Firefighter Tim Jackson from Ladder 2, and Firefighter Jay Lyons and Firefighter Joe McGuirk from Engine 3. Though many more brave fire fighters attempted to locate their missing brothers, their efforts proved futile.
Six heroes died that night — their last alarm. May they always be remembered.
The deaths of Firefighters Paul A. Brotherton, Timothy P. Jackson, Jeremiah M. Lucey, James F. “Jay” Lyons III, Joseph T. McGuirk, and Lt. Thomas E. Spencer devastated Worcester and the nation. Their deaths marked the worst loss of fire fighters’ lives in more than 20 years in a building fire in America, and the third worst fire in Massachusetts’ history. Six days after they died, a memorial service drew 30,000 fire fighters and 10,000 civilians in what was believed to have been the largest such service for fire fighters killed on duty. Fire fighters from across the country and from other countries attended, as did scores of prominent officials, including President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.Questions/Feedback:
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