Fire Chief Michael Lavoie identified the victim as Firefighter Christopher Roy, 36, a 2½-year member of the department. He lived in Shrewsbury and leaves a 9-year-old daughter.
The fire was reported at 3:58 a.m. as a basement fire in a three-story apartment building at 7 Lowell St. Firefighters entered the building and the “conditions deteriorated rapidly with heavy fire forcing several firefighters on the second floor to evacuate,” Chief Lavoie said. Officials ultimately raised the response level to five-alarms, bringing in more crews.
Chief Lavoie said other crews and Rapid Intervention Team members helped five firefighters escape the blaze using ladders. Two others, including Firefighter Roy, became trapped and were pulled from the second-floor by colleagues. Both injured firefighters were taken to a hospital, where one of them passed away.
“Fire crews were heroic in their efforts to rescue their colleagues under extreme conditions,” Chief Lavoie said. “Every person on the fireground gave 110 percent to try and rescue the firefighters who were in danger.”
“We could hear the fire department screaming. We could hear the chiefs yelling to get the ladders and we could hear the firefighters all … You could hear the desperation. You could hear them really trying hard. It was just heartbreaking to see people trying that hard.”
Guilbault, shooting video from his third-story window on Freeland Terrace, said first responders were struggling to throw up ladders to rear second-story windows on top of mounds of debris as smoke and darkness engulfed them. At the same time, firefighter equipment alarms shrieked and wailed.
Guilbault said he stopped filming after the first firefighter was rescued “because I didn’t know what else we were going to see. I didn’t want to have that on video. It made me sad.”