A firefighter died battling a 2-alarm blaze in Watertown, Massachusetts on Friday morning.
"It's a sad day for everybody," Watertown Police Chief Michael Lawn said. "This is a loss. A day like this is just not a good day here in Watertown."
Officials identified the fallen firefighter as Joseph Toscano, 54, of Randolph, a 21-year member of the Watertown Fire Department. He was married and had five children between the ages of 12 and 19.
"They're all devastated," firefighter's union president Rob Mannix said. "They lost the biggest thing in their lives."
"Joe took immense pride and joy in being a husband to Maureen, his wife of 25 years, and dad to Alyssa, Patrick, Mary Cate, William and Michael," the family said in a statement. "This is an unthinkable loss for our family. Joe's loving spirit will be with us forever."
Randolph residents like Frank Moynihan and his daughter, Jade, were stunned by the news.
"I couldn't think of a better neighbor," Frank Moynihan said. "I'm devastated."
"I love them a lot and I love their family," Jade Moynihan said. "I'm so sorry this happened."
"I feel like I'm blessed to have such a nice neighbor," said Jay Dave.
"He left this morning to go to work like he did every day," Watertown Deputy Fire Chief Bob Quinn said. "We all know the dangers. We never expect this day to happen, but it happened, unfortunately."
The fire was first reported around 10:16 a.m. on Merrifield Avenue. Police were the first on scene and were able to get two people and several pets out of the home safely. Fire officials said that heavy flames were showing when they arrived at the scene.
Quinn said Toscano was working inside the fire area when he collapsed. He was brought outside by his fellow firefighters and transported to Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, where he was later pronounced dead. Officials said it appears Toscano might have suffered a heart attack.
"It's very sad here in Watertown today to have this situation occur," he said. "It's just such a traumatic event. It's going to be a long stretch today."
State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey said the fire started on the second floor and was contained to one room. The cause remains under investigation.
"This is certainly a tremendous blow to this department," he said. "It's a very close group of people, a very tight-knit city. This is a terrible, terrible loss."
"Everybody's devastated," added Mannix. "Keep him in your prayers - Joe Toscano, father first, a great fireman. He's going to be missed."