Two firefighters die in West Roxbury restaurant fire

Payne and CahillUPDATE: The fire had been slowly burning for an hour in the ceiling when it suddenly exploded into a fireball.

Two firefighters died battling a fast-moving fire at the Tai Ho Chinese restaurant on Centre Street tonight. Channel 4 reports that two more were on life support and that several others also suffered injuries; the Globe reports a total of 12 firefighters were injured.

The fire at 1727 Centre St., which shot flames into the night air, quickly went to four alarms after first erupting around 9 p.m. Channel 5 reports the firefighters became trapped when the roof collapsed.

Dead are Paul Cahill, 55, of Scituate, and Warren Payne, 53, of Canton, both of whom were among the first to respond to the fire from their station just down Centre Street.

The fire was largely contained to the restaurant and the neighboring Continental Shoppe pet-grooming store and L'Essence art gallery; however, the owner of a shop a few doors down reported extensive smoke damage to the entire block of stores, located across from the Roche Community Center.

Long after the flames were put out, owners and employees of neighboring shops and restaurants and nearby residents stood behind police tape at the intersection with Belgrade Avenue, either watching silently or trying to glean any information. A Boston Police K-9 unit stayed at the ready around the corner.

Fatal fire



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    You probably saw one of the earlier versions of the post; my apologies for the inaccuracies.

    thank god

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    my dad works there but luckily he went to china this week to visit relatives. if he was working today i don't know what would have happened. he's gunna come home finding it gone and its gunna be devestating. please help pray for my family

    I was there twice

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    The first time I was there was about 9:30, driving down Centre Street. They were still putting the fire out and the cop was directing traffic through the (still open) gas station on the corner and then onto Belgrade. I came back the same way at about midnight, or a little after, and there was a new cop blocking traffic and telling people to turn around.

    I told him I just wanted to get to the other side of the bridge on Belgrade and asked if I could cut throught he now closed gas station. He (very rudely, I might add) told me it was full of fire apparatus and impassable. He then told me to go all the way back to LaGrange and come back up Washington. Instead I went through Roche Bros and found Belgrade to be empty, save for a single ambulance.

    After parking I walked up to the scene and saw Councillor John Tobin there. He was the first to tell me the firefighters had be lost. What a shame all around, and I can only imagine what time Tobin got home to his pregnant wife and young son. - a community since 1636 and online since 2007!

    Is there anyone out there

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    Is there anyone out there concerned about the two families who have just lost a husband or father. Shame on the girl who talks about her father being in China. These two brave firefighters were there to try to serve and protect those in danger. These families are devasted nevermind the firefighters who have just lost a brother. My thoughts go out to those still injured in the hospital fighting for their lives, for I know one of them. Everyone should be grateful for what every single one of those men and women in uniform did there last night just to do their job and help out. I'll be interested to see HOW this fire started. Next time you see a fireman or police officer, go up to them and say Thank you, because just like last night, these are the people who go out of there way to help you when you need them the most.

    Shame on You Brave Anon!

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    How DARE you play "my grief is bigger than yours" turf games here? How DARE you demean somebody who has also suffered a loss because you don't happen to think it big enough to rate? And while you are being so very demeaningly sexist to this WOMAN who commented, why don't you just come right out and give your anti-immigrant racism a good airing, too?

    This is a COMMUNITY WIDE tragedy - a huge loss for the firefighters, a more than huge loss for the families of the dead and injured, and a serious loss for those who had businesses and worked in the buildings. There is no way to spell T-U-R-F from the letters in tragedy. Stop this shit NOW!


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    How do EITHER of you know that it is a girl/woman/female commenting? I know this is way off the very serious topic, but I'm just wondering.


    Fair to assume ...

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    that it isn't a ten or twelve year old, as I have a couple of boys that age at home. They write well for their age, but not that well.

    That said, it is very inappropriate to post an anoymous attack on someone who has a different but still valid reason to grieve and worry.

    Shall I just call you "boy" then?

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    How many different flavors of disrespect would that be?

    I realize that males don't have the same experience of being constantly belittled and disrespected and marginalized as "not possibly ever adult" just because, but I will continue to call out the offensive use of "girl" to describe grown women and likely-to-be grown women.

    that is very funny coming

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    that is very funny coming from someone who calls herself "girl" or grrl or whatever. and to brian, who posted earlier, i feel so bad that the cop was rude to you. i'm sure he was not stressed as it was without some self important person asking for special permission to cut through the gas station.

    Do you really not get the difference...

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    ...between self-identifying with a term and having someone not in your close circle of friends use the term?

    I refer to myself as a dyke. I'm fine when my close friends and family members also use the term. But if a stranger or supervisor or journalist used the term to describe me, I'd think it was quite a crossing of boundaries.

    (Also, look up the history of the term "grrl." It isn't the same as "girl.")

    What Swirlygrrl said

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    I'm with you on that. It's pretty common colloquially among queer women and other groups to call people they know "girls" and "boys." I don't mind being called a girl by people I know and with whom I have enough familiarity for this to be appropriate. But to use the term in writing and to describe one's employees or a stranger...that reeks of sexism.

    Hey, there's plenty to go

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    Hey, there's plenty to go around. I feel bad for those that lost their livelihood, I feel bad for any trapped animals in the boarding place.
    Godspeed, brothers, Godspeed.

    To combat spam, please solve the math question above.
    What is 22 + 18?

    Sr. Lorraine prays for the

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    Sr. Lorraine prays for the firefighters and their families:

    ... It happened just a few miles from our convent. A little after 9 PM, I was reading in my room and started to smell smoke coming in through the windows. It was fairly strong, and then I heard a lot of sirens blaring for a very long time. I and the other sisters also saw and heard several helicopters flying over the nearby area. ...

    It's so sad

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    We were standing in front of west on centre last night around 930. We saw the two firefighters on the cover of the herald walk in to an ambulance. The whole scene was so somber and so quiet. A woman's dog got away from her running up the hill across the street. A bunch of people raced over and tried to form a dog blockade. It was totally surreal. My heart goes out to all the families affected.

    Permanent memorial needed

    It took decades to put a firefighters' memorial outside the Hotel Vendome. I hope this one can be done a lot sooner.

    Seeing the roof collapse

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    Sarah and Eric were on Centre Street when the roof fell in:

    ... We saw two people taken on stretchers into ambulances, and two firefighters walk in to an ambulance for oxygen.

    The two firefighters who were killed were local to us, they worked out of West Roxbury. If you have a moment today, send out some good thoughts into the ether, and keep their families in your thoughts.

    West Roxbury hit hard

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    Seth Gitell notes that West Roxbury is very much a civil-service neighborhood:

    ... Usually on a sunny day like this, a few guys from the fire house have chairs set up along the street so they can watch the world go by. Today the world’s eyes are on them.

    This is a loss that will cut through this neighborhood hard. Michael Levenson of The Boston Globe captured the dynamic when he quoted a resident saying "it's a fire-police neighborhood." The local Roche Brothers Supermarket is like a company store for city employees. Our condolences go out to the families of Paul Cahill and Warren Payne who fell in the fire. We hope the injured have speedy recoveries. ...

    A hug for a firefighter

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    TS is a Boston paramedic. He was off last night, wishes he had been on, and recounts the following:

    ... I received another phone call just now, from someone who had come across a pair of Boston firefighters in a Dunkin' Donuts. She didn't know them, but she approached to express her sympathy about the deaths of their colleagues. Both men thanked her. One stood up and gave her an awkward hug. And right there on the shoulder of a stranger, he began to sob. ...

    Where to send donations

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    The Boston Fire Department says a fund has been set up for the families of the dead and injured firefighters:

    West Roxbury Fire Fund
    c/o Boston Firefighters Credit Union
    60 Hallet Street
    Dorchester, MA 02124

    The Herald lists all their names.

    In a little bit of shock

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    Shadow, who lives in West Roxbury, says the deaths hit a little bit too close to home:

    ... While I do not know any of these men personally, it is like my neighbor said, "Nothing like this happens in West Roxbury." Or has happened, so needless to say, we are all in a little bit of shock. ...

    Funny Smell

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    A coworker of mine picked up a take out order there about 45 minutes before the fire.

    Apparently, the place smelled odd to somebody walking in off the street - no real description, just not like it normally did I guess.

    The person was pretty shaken up upon learning what then happened, let alone their presence in building that was already quietly on fire.

    Infrared camera

    Why wasn't an infrared camera used in the West Roxbury restaurant fire? It could have detected the extent of the fire, which the firefighters apparently believed was limited to the kitchen of the restaurant.

    I know the first instinct is to rush in immediately, because every second counts, but the lives of the firefighters are as important as the lives of those they are trying to save. In this case, the restaurant had already been evacuated, so the loss of the two firefighters is especially tragic.

    Crying in JP

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    Kat recalls the night this past January when firefighters came to her building to make sure a fire was really out:

    ... I sit here with tears, wondering if your fallen brethren were among those giving comfort and bringing cheer that cold January night.

    This is just so. sad.

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    The two firefighters lost their lives....needlessly. I'm sorry for that, and for their families that wree left behind.

    What's just as unfortunate is the fact that this fire was clearly preventable. Had the city not been so negligent in its inspection and the restaurant owners not so negligent in regular upkeep and maintenance, the two firefighters would still be alive right now, and the neighborhood wouldn't be minus a restaraunt in addition to two firefighters.