Pair of Buffalo, New York Firefighters Killed in Collapse at 3-Alarm Fire

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Buffalo 3 Alarm LODD Fire Dispatch/Ops

Funeral Arrangements
Lt. Charles McCarthy
St. Joseph Cathedral - Franklin St.
Friday - August 28 - 9:30 a.m.
Viewing: Thursday, August 27th, 2:00pm – 8:00pm
James Cannan Funeral Home
3155 Orchard Park Road
Orchard Park, NY 14127

Firefighter Jonathan Croom
St. Joseph Cathedral - Franklin St.
Friday - August 28 - 1:00 p.m.
Viewing: Thursday, August 27th, 2:00pm -8:00 pm
Amigone Funeral Home
1132 Delaware Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14209

Lt. Charles "Chip" McCarthy & Firefighter Jonathan Croom

Firefighters Remove Fallen Bravest

Raw Video from the Scene

Buffalo firefighters salute as they remove bodies of fellow firefighters from a building after a fire in Buffalo, N.Y., Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. The first floor of a burning convenience store collapsed into the basement early Monday morning, killing two firefighters. (AP Photo/ David Duprey)

Fire Commissioner Mike Lombardo: Firefighters Missing
Associated Press Writer

Two firefighters -- one searching for a person reported to be trapped and the other responding to a mayday call -- plunged through the collapsed first floor of a burning building and died early Monday.

Rescue crews tried repeatedly to get to the two fallen firefighters, but were beaten back by fire and further collapses inside the corner brick building, Commissioner Michael Lombardo said.

The first firefighter to fall through the floor, Lt. Charles "Chip" McCarthy, was a 22-year veteran of the Buffalo Fire Department who was assigned to a team whose members are trained to find and free trapped victims.

He had depleted one oxygen tank, came out to replace it and then re-entered the building just before the accident happened, said firefighter Vincent Gugliuzza, vice president of Local 282, Buffalo Professional Firefighters Association.

He pressed a distress button on his radio and radioed for help, saying, "Basement, I'm in the basement," said Daniel Cunningham, president of the firefighters union.

Firefighter Jonathan Croom, who was working on his scheduled day off, responded to McCarthy's mayday call and also fell through the collapsed floor, Cunningham said.

Firefighters continued to search the building Monday afternoon but had not yet determined whether anyone else was still inside, officials said.

The fire at the Super Speedy deli in a working-class neighborhood on the city's east side was reported just before 4 a.m. Flag-draped stretchers carrying the bodies were brought out of the two-story building shortly before 10 a.m. as fellow firefighters, some saluting, lined up and took off their helmets. Weeping and distraught people believed to be relatives had been escorted from the scene moments earlier.

Firefighters were still pouring water on the gutted building hours after the blaze began. The fire's cause was under investigation.

McCarthy was a 45-year-old married father of three. Croom, 34, had been in the department for 10 years and leaves behind a fiance and the couple's 9-month-old child. He was working on overtime on his day off to cover a staffing shortage, Cunningham said.

The two were among the first firefighters on the scene, Lombardo said.

"The hearts of the Buffalo Fire Department are broken," said Lombardo, who knew both of the victims. "This is a family and we lost two members of our family today."

The last Buffalo firefighter killed in the line of duty was 31-year-old Michael Seguin, who died July 4, 1997, when a roof collapsed during a house fire.

The last time more than one Buffalo firefighter died in the line of duty was on Dec. 27, 1983, when five firefighters were killed in a propane tank explosion at a warehouse _ the worst loss of life in the department's 129-year history.

"I've been on 36 years and seen every situation happen. We still do what we have to do," said Fire Chief John McFeely. "It's always very, very tragic. The guys are so close together, but we've got a job to do. In another half an hour, if there's another fire down the street, we'll be there."


Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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They died doing what they were supposed to be doing, doing the job we all do to the best of their ability. That's heroism and it should stand as a lasting tribute to who and what they were.

And you're right, they didn't die in training or in a collision or doing something against SOG/SOP. They died because sometimes shit happens and it's the risk we all take when we don our turnouts and head out the door.
An Engine company on the way to to see Lt. McCarthy at the funeral home came across a car accident in West Seneca, just outside Buffalo,NY. As the Engine started to work on 1 pt, a trauma code, the boss of the Engine called to have West Seneca Fire respond. As command pulled on location he rpts Buffalo working a trauma code and needing a med evac. I was dispatched to respond with an Engine to land the helo, but due to the location of the mva we had to cross the scene. we were held in the house. A few min later cmd reported that the "code" was going into the helo with pulses! A comment was made by one of the firefighters at my house, "He didn't make a grab at the Genessee st fire but his sacrifice was able to save someone even in his death." I just felt this very proper to share, and maybe show a ray of sun light in all of the dark clouds we have seen over the last week.

Lt. McCarthy and Firefighter John Croom, God bless your family, the Buffalo Fire Department and all who you have touched in life.

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