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Thousands mourn Boston firefighter killed in blaze

Source: Reuters - Wed, 2 Apr 2014 15:07 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Adds that crowds were forming, comments)

By Daniel Lovering

WATERTOWN, Mass., April 2 (Reuters) - Thousands of firefighters from across the United States lined the streets of a Massachusetts city on Wednesday for the funeral of one of two firefighters who died battling a blaze in a Boston apartment building last week.

Two ladder trucks from local fire companies held an enormous American flag in front of St. Patrick's Church in Watertown, just outside Boston, where Boston Fire Department Lieutenant Edward Walsh's funeral was being held.

Walsh, 43, and Firefighter Michael Kennedy, 33, died on March 26 while battling a roaring fire in a four-story apartment building in Boston's historic Back Bay neighborhood.

Some 150 firefighters responded to the blaze and more than 17 were injured. No residents of the building were hurt.

Firefighters from New York, Chicago and Miami joined the procession ahead of the funeral, where officials, including Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and the city's Roman Catholic Archbishop Sean O'Malley were expected to speak.

As bagpipes played, a fire truck carried Walsh's casket, draped in a Boston Fire Department flag, into the church. A line of uniformed firefighters, including one with a white bandage wrapped around much of his head, saluted as the body was carried into the church.

Walsh, who leaves behind his wife and three children, will be buried next to his father, who was also a firefighter.

Kennedy's funeral will follow on Thursday at Holy Name Church in Boston's West Roxbury neighborhood.

Aaron Dushku, 40, a Watertown councilor-at-large, said the turnout reflected how well Walsh was known in the community.

"It's just recognition of a local son, a native son, a brave hero who died in the line of duty," said Dushku, who attended high school with Walsh. "We're a pretty tight community."

Brendan Gurry, a firefighter from Newark, New Jersey, said he and about nine others from his department had traveled 300 miles (480 km) to attend the funeral.

"I would travel as far as my money would take me to show respect for someone who gave the ultimate sacrifice," said Gurry, 32, who was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just outside Boston. "It's an honor thing." (Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Bernadette Baum)

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