A somber New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady saluted Boston firefighters who battled a nine-alarm blaze at a brownstone just doors down from his home Wednesday that killed two in the line of duty.
Brady was among those who watched the Back Bay fire and was photographed near the scene. He posted a message on Facebook on Wednesday night, and spoke about what he saw and experienced in an interview on WEEI Thursday morning.
“I had a firsthand view of all the action and was just blown away by the bravery and the teamwork that they really displayed,” Brady told WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan Morning Show during a phone interview. “I’ve lived in the Back Bay for a long time, and that was one of the scarier days.
“At one point, I saw a pretty big explosion of flames, and a lot of the firemen were coming out of the building. That’s when I really got nervous. I felt so badly for them.”
Brady said the incident put things into perspective.
“We as athletes think that we’re heroes, but when you witness firsthand what I saw yesterday, you realize who the real heroes are in this world,” he said. “And that’s the people that work hard to protect our lives and protect our safety, our freedoms in America, certainly the firefighters and Boston Police and the state troopers.”
Wednesday night, Brady posted condolences on his Facebook page to the families of the fallen and to the Boston Fire Department:
“On behalf of my entire family, I want to extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to the Boston Fire Department and the families of our brave and selfless firefighters who gave their lives for our protection and safety today, and to the entire firefighting community who protect us each and every day. All of you will be in our thoughts and prayers.”
The nine-alarm fire, which spread quickly due to nearly 45-mile per hour wind gusts in Boston, took the lives of Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh Jr. and Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy, who became trapped in the basement of the Beacon Street apartment building. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
“I feel so badly for the families of the two firefighters that were lost and obviously all the men that were fighting that fire yesterday losing one of their close friends,” Brady said on the radio station.
Brady described the scene, saying he watched from his deck as the fire spread quickly and eventually took his family to a friend’s home to ensure their safety.
“At one point I saw pretty big explosion of flames and a lot of the firemen were coming out of the building and that’s when I really got nervous,” Brady said. “Our lives were never in jeopardy at all thanks to those brave men fighting that fire for us.
“It was a very intense day of weather and wind. You just can’t imagine all those things that really happened, how quickly those things can get out of control. I have a newfound respect for nature and what it’s all about and under those conditions for those men to watch them try to put out the fire in freezing conditions and all the different elements they had to deal with. There’s no way to prepare for things like that.”
According to the Boston Globe, other Boston athletes and teams also expressed their sentiments on social media.
Before the Celtics faced the Toronto Raptors at TD Garden, a moment of silence was observed and a message displayed on the video screen read, “In memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice or were injured in today’s fire in the Back Bay.”
“Thoughts & prayers for the two Boston Firefighters and their families who lost their lives today. True heroes!!” Bruins forward Brad Marchand wrote on Twitter.
Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork posted a photo of his message on Twitter:
“My family and I would like to send our deepest condolences to the Kennedy and Walsh families. After losing both of my parents at a young age and just this Saturday I lost my last grandparent, my heart hurts for the firefighters who lost their lives today saving others. My prayers for their families.”
Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester said on Twitter: “Devastating news out of Boston. Thoughts and prayers go out to the Walsh and kennedy families, and the entire @BostonFire community. #Heroes.”