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Boston firefighters remember nine who died fighting Hotel Vendome blaze

Boston Fire Department Commissioner Joseph E. Finn bowed his head during the annual memorial ceremony for the nine firefighters that lost their lives in the 1972 Hotel Vendome fire. Timothy Tai for the Boston Globe/Boston Globe

Family members and fire officials gathered on Commonwealth Avenue Friday to acknowledge the 44th anniversary of the Hotel Vendome fire and remember the nine Boston firefighters who lost their lives battling it.

On June 17, 1972, after almost three hours of fighting the massive blaze, crews had it mostly under control. Then, out of nowhere at 5:28 p.m., part of the building collapsed, trapping 25 firefighters.

The department holds a ceremony at a memorial for the firefighters each year. The large curved stone, which was dedicated on the 25th anniversary of the fire, sits at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Dartmouth Street, across the street from where the blaze took place.


“It’s a way to show . . . that we haven’t forgotten these guys,” Boston fire spokesman Steve MacDonald said. “Obviously a devastating loss for the department back then, and it’s something we remember every year.”

The names of those killed — firefighters Thomas W. Beckwith, Joseph F. Boucher Jr., Charles E. Dolan, John E. Jameson, Richard B. Magee, Paul J. Murphy, and Joseph P. Saniuk, and Lieutenants Thomas J. Carroll and John E. Hanbury Jr., are etched into the memorial.

At the short, simple ceremony, flowers were placed in front of each name. In some instances, a relative of the firefighter placed the flowers, including the son of Richard Magee, who is now a district chief in the department.

Connor Aigen, 2, of Newton, held his favorite toy firetruck while looking at the Hotel Vendome fire memorial after the ceremony. Timothy Tai for the Boston Globe

J.D. Capelouto can be reached at jd.capelouto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jdcapelouto.