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In Worcester, a Tragic History of Devastating Fires

The death of Worcester Fire Lt. Jason Menard early Wednesday in an apartment blaze was a stark reminder of the city’s history of tragic fires.

Menard, a father of three, died saving members of Ladder 5, who were responding to reports of a trapped baby on the third floor of a burning apartment building on Stockholm Street.

Menard’s death came just over a year after Christopher Roy, a 36-year-old Shrewsbury resident, died after responding to a 5-alarm fire on Lowell Street around 4 a.m. on Dec. 9, 2018.

Roy became trapped on the second floor of the structure along with four other firefighters. He managed to escape using a ladder and was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he died.

His cause of death was smoke inhalation, according to the medical examiner.

Roy’s death was ruled a homicide after authorities determined the blaze he was fighting in an apartment building had been deliberately set by a former tenant.

Momoh Kamara, 21, of West Boylston, was charged with second-degree murder, arson of a dwelling and armed burglary. He pleaded not guilty.

"He could move mountains with a smile," firefighter Sean Sullivan said at Roy’s funeral. "A permanent hole is in all of our hearts now but we can move forward knowing Roy is forever a part of us."

On December 8, 2011, Worcester firefighter Jon Davies was killed responding to a three-alarm blaze

And nearly 20 years ago, on December 3, 1999, six firefighters died responding to a five-alarm fire at the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. Dubbed the “Worcester Six,” the firefighters sacrificed their lives to try and rescue two people who were believed to be trapped inside the inferno.

"Those six brave men walked into the Worcester Cold Storage building and into our hearts and city's history," Mayor Joseph Petty said in 2014 on the 15th anniversary of the blaze.

On Wednesday, Petty said Menard’s death was “especially poignant” in light of the previous tragedies.

“The circumstances have become all too familiar to us: the cool night, one of our three-decker neighborhoods, a fire and the death of one of Worcester’s bravest."

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