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Firefighter Killed Battling Blaze Just Hours Before He Was Set to Leave for Family Disney Vacation

Joelle Goldstein
Firefighter Killed Battling Blaze Just Hours Before He Was Set to Leave for Family Disney Vacation

A Massachusetts community has been left heartbroken after one of their veteran firefighters tragically died in the line of duty while saving a woman and her baby from a house blaze.

Worcester firefighter Lt. Jason Menard was preparing to embark on a trip to Disney World with his family when he was called to a house fire early Wednesday morning, according to the Worcester Fire Department.

Unfortunately, Menard, 39, never made it back home to his wife Tina and their three children as he died in the blaze after getting trapped on the third floor of the residence.

“This is an extremely difficult day for the Worcester Fire Department,” Fire Chief Michael Lavoie said in a press release. “Lieutenant Menard’s heroic actions saved the life of one of his crew members.”

A spokesperson with the WFD said the incident was first called in at 12:58 a.m on Wednesday and included reports of a fire on the “second floor, with a baby possibly trapped on the third floor.”

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When firefighters arrived, they entered the home to save a woman and baby inside. However, once upstairs, they became trapped by the strong flames.

That’s when Menard stepped into action and selflessly helped his team escape while also putting his own life in danger.

“Lt. Menard heroically and selflessly saved his crew, helping a probationary firefighter to the stairs and then returning to rescue another trapped firefighter, assisting him out the window,” Lavoie told reporters at a news conference, according to CBSN Boston. “Fire conditions overtook the third floor at this time and Lt. Menard was unable to escape.”

Lavoie explained that his team attempted to reach Menard and three other firefighters, but it became increasingly difficult with the high winds and cold weather, the local outlet reports.

When other firefighters finally were able to get to them, all four were rushed to the hospital, where Menard eventually died.

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As for the others, all of whom have not been identified, one firefighter currently remains in serious but stable condition, according to the WFD press release. The other two were released after being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

The adult female inside the residence was also transported to the hospital with serious injuries, but no one else was involved or injured from the blaze, officials said. It is not clear if the infant was inside the home at the time of the fire.

At this time, a cause of the fire remains unclear. The Worcester Fire Department, Worcester Police Department, and the State Police are currently investigating the incident.

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During the press conference, Menard was praised by his colleagues for his service to the department since 2010.

“He was a passionate fire officer who absolutely loved being a firefighter,” Lavoie said, CBSN reports. “He took his job very seriously, performed it admirably and his dedication to the residents of Worcester was unwavering.”

An official also noted how the fire tragically came just hours before Menard was expected to depart on a family trip to Disney.

“They had planned this morning to be on a trip to Disney. They are instead planning a hero’s sendoff,” Local 1009 President Michael Papagni added to reporters. “We’ll support his family and his children for the rest of their lives.”

On Wednesday, Menard’s body was transported to the Medical Examiner’s office in Boston, followed by a police procession down the Massachusetts Turnpike. The same procession was performed as his body was transported back to Worcester.

The WFD also announced on Facebook that they were planning to establish an official memorial fund for Menard and his family soon.

“The outpouring of support shown to the family of Lieutenant Jason Menard and the Worcester Fire Department today in the wake of his untimely passing has been nothing short of extraordinary,” they wrote. “Until then, we thank you for your messages of hope and encouragement and your continued support for Lt. Menard’s family, friends and his WFD brothers and sisters.”