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Baby and mother in fire that killed Worcester fire lieutenant got out before crew went in, chief says

Fallen Worcester Fire Lt. Jason Menard rescued a fellow firefighter and was searching for trapped residents when he was killed in the blaze

Jason Menard-2.jpg

Fallen Fire Lt. Jason Menard is being hailed as a hero for trying to rescue a mother and baby who were reportedly trapped on the third floor of a burning building, and for leading fellow firefighters to safety.

Photo/Worcester Fire Department Facebook

Melissa Hanson, Springfield, Mass.

WORCESTER, Mass. — It appears that firefighters, including fallen Lt. Jason Menard, who went into a burning Worcester home in search of a mother and baby reportedly trapped inside didn’t know the two residents had already made it out safe, Worcester’s fire chief said Friday.

Menard and the rest of Ladder 5 went into the three-decker at 7 Stockholm St. just before 1 a.m. Wednesday. As flames started to take over the third floor, Menard helped fellow firefighters get to safety. The 39-year-old husband and father of three did not make it out of the building.

In brief comments Friday morning, Worcester Fire Chief Michael Lavoie said it appears that the firefighters who rushed in to search for the mother and baby did not know the two had made it out safe.

“We didn’t know that they were out and safe,” Lavoie said at the end of an event by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which is arranging to pay off the Menard family’s mortgage.

A neighbor across Stockholm Street was taking in residents who ran from the burning home after flames broke out. That neighbor said she had as many as 12 people in her house, including a mother and baby who were taken to a hospital.

“We just didn’t know,” Lavoie repeated. The chief said he did not have an update on the condition of the mother and baby, who were taken to the hospital following the blaze. Yesterday, a city spokesman said the two were recovering.

Menard leaves his wife, Tina, and their three children. The family was supposed to be heading to Disney on Wednesday.

A funeral for Menard, who became a Worcester firefighter in 2010 and was promoted to lieutenant last year, is scheduled for Monday.

Menard has been hailed a hero. He pushed fellow firefighter Chris Pace out a window so he could escape the fire.

At the Friday morning event, Worcester Fire Local 1009 President Michael Papagni said that because of Menard’s actions, Pace will be there to see the birth of his second child.

What caused the blaze remains under investigation by the Worcester Fire Department fire investigation unit, the Worcester Police Department, the State Fire Marshal’s office and the office of Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr.

Menard’s death comes at a particularly cruel time of the year for the Worcester Fire Department. It was already in preparations to mark the 20th anniversary of the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. fire, which killed six firefighters, the first anniversary of the death of Firefighter Chris Roy, and the 8th anniversary of the death of Firefighter Jon D. Davies Sr.


©2019, Springfield, Mass.

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