US & Canada

Two firefighters killed in Boston Back Bay blaze

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Media captionBoston fire chief Richard Paris described the blaze as "a sad day" for the city

Two firefighters were killed and 13 injured in the US city of Boston in a wind-whipped blaze that destroyed a three-storey residential building.

The fire in the city's Back Bay neighbourhood broke out about 14:45 local time (18:45 GMT).

Lt Edward Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy were overcome by flames in the basement in minutes, officials said.

A number of residents were rescued from the upper floors, and none were reported injured.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

"Today's a sad day for the city of Boston," Mayor Marty Walsh told reporters in an evening news conference. "We lost two heroes here today."

The first fire crews responding to the scene spotted smoke blowing from the brick apartment building and called for back-up.

As the inferno grew rapidly, firefighters rushed into the building to rescue residents from the upper floors, while Lt Walsh, 43, and Firefighter Kennedy, 33, ran with a hose down to the basement, where the fire is believed to have originated, Deputy Fire Chief Joseph Finn told reporters.

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Image caption A number of firefighters were injured when an explosion knocked them down a staircase, and some suffered burns, officials said

"In 30 years I've never seen a fire escalate that quickly," he said.

He said he believed a basement window broke and air rushed into the building, driving the fire at the two men and scorching them. They called mayday about two to three minutes after they entered the building.

Meanwhile, several firefighters suffered burns, broken bones and other bodily injuries.

Firefighter Kennedy was rescued about 30 minutes into the fire and was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he died.

Lt Walsh's body was only recovered about 20:00 local time, when an honour guard of comrades from his firehouse carried him from the burnt shell of the building, a fire official said.

"Citizens were saved and that's what we do, we sacrifice our lives for the city of Boston," said Rich Paris, president of Boston Firefighters Local 718, a labour union.

"That's what Firefighter Michael Kennedy and Lt Eddie Walsh did today."

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