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(NECN: Boston, Greg Wayland) – Lieutenant Ed Walsh was 43, a husband and father of three small children all under the age of 10, and now he's gone suddenly in a wind-driven fire and the darkness of a brownstone basement.
"You just wish it wasn't true and it was a nightmare and you wake up,” said Marilyn Petitto Devaney.
"Eddy Walsh I knew, a big guy, came from a huge family of firefighters in Watertown," said BPD spokesman Steve McDonald.
The flag is flying at half-staff outside Watertown, Mass. Fire Headquarters where Lt. Walsh grew up as one of three children. He went to school at the Watertown Middle School on Westminster Street, which was known as West Junior when Lt. Walsh was there.
His late uncle was a fire lieutenant and his cousin a captain. His father served on the fire department with Watertown Governor's Councilor Marilyn Pettito Devaney's husband.
"We're a family even thought my husband's gone thirteen years; I still feel I'm part of the firefighter family. That's what they do; they take care of their own,” Pettito Devaney said.
But Lt. Eddy Walsh put down roots in Boston's West Roxbury neighborhood, too, where he was a member of the Holy Name Catholic Church parish.
The flag is also at half-staff outside former City Councilor John Tobin's house.
"I think like a lot of people you get brought together through your lives with people you didn't grow up with through your kids,” City Councilor Tobin said.
Walsh had been to Tobin's son's seventh birthday party and they played basketball last weekend at family night.
“And it was the moms and dads versus the kids. It was just so much fun to see everybody out there laughing with their kids and having fun and they gave them trophies afterwards and pizza, and I think it's the last time a lot of us, a lot of us saw him," Tobin said.
Pettito Devaney saw the smoke rise up over Boston Wednesday.
"And I know, as being married to a firefighter, every time I heard the engine go out I just said, ‘please God, let them all be safe,’ and that's what I was praying for them and I was crying for, I thought, two strangers and I didn't know it was one of our own," Pettito Devaney said.
Sadly, it was.