‘He was totally engulfed in flames’: Witnesses recount blaze that injured two Everett firefighters
EVERETT — It happened in an instant.
Scott Dalrymple and Joshua Doyon from Ladder 2 were the first Everett firefighters to run into a burning, three-family home on Morris Street, where a woman was trapped on the second floor on Friday at 1:45 p.m.
Dressed in protective gear, Dalrymple and Doyon immediately saw flames shooting from a heating vent inside the hallway, meaning the 3-alarm fire was roaring in the basement below, Everett Fire Chief Tony Carli said Saturday.
They scaled the stairs, but the heat and flames were so intense that Dalrymple and Doyon had to turn back, the chief said.
As they retreated, witnesses on Morris Street said a deafening boom erupted from inside the house. Doyon bolted through the front door followed by Dalrymple — both with flames shooting from their gear — as fire consumed the hallway behind them, the bystanders said.
“One firefighter came out tumbling,” said Mitchell Donnelly, 44, who lives across the street. “The other firefighter came out like he was a linebacker, head tucked down. He was totally engulfed in flames.”
Doyon, 27, who wasn’t as badly hurt as Dalrymple, 48, tried to help his colleague, who fell down the exterior stairs and needed to be sprayed with water.
“Josh was taking care of Scotty with a crew out front,” said Craig Hardy, president of Everett Firefighters Union Local 143, who was also summoned to the blaze. “He’s military trained. He didn’t worry about himself.”
Fire officials believe the firefighters were victims of an apparent flashover of flames, Carli said.
Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria said Dalrymple shielded Doyon from the fire.
“Scott took the brunt of the backdraft,” he said.
The dramatic scene unfolded around the corner from the office of Cataldo Ambulance, which rushed the firefighters to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Carli said.
Hardy said when he arrived on Morris Street, firefighters were tending to Dalrymple and Doyon and the stranded woman was screaming from a rooftop at the rear of the house.
“It was crazy to say the least,” he said.
Hardy said he and his colleague, Chris Dockery, used ladders to bring her to safety. She was taken to MGH by ambulance and released Friday, Carli said.
“She was distraught,” said Andrea Medeiros, who lives across the street.
Dalrymple, a firefighter for more than two decades, remained hospitalized Saturday with second- and third-degree burns to his hands and abdomen, Carli said. Doyon, who joined the department in 2015, suffered burns to his ears and neck and left the hospital Friday night.
Carli said their protective gear saved their lives.
“They were in full turnout gear, which I believe contributed to them both being alive today,” he said.
Investigators believe the blaze began in an electrical panel, according to the state fire marshal’s office.
Donnelly, the neighbor, said he was alerted to the fire by a popping noise followed by the sound of smoke alarms. He looked outside and saw people screaming and yelling about the woman who was trapped.
He said he called 911 and fetched a garden hose from a neighbor’s yard, directing the water at flames coming from a basement window.
“When I looked in, the whole basement was engulfed. There was fire everywhere,” Donnelly said.
About 19 people were left homeless by the fire, Carli said. An open house was held July 8 at the property, which is for sale for $750,000, according to an online listing.
Authorities are investigating possible fire and building code violations at the home, the state fire marshal’s office said.
Carli said Dalrymple was in good spirits when he visited him on Saturday. DeMaria described him as a popular firefighter who creates an Everett Fire Department calendar every year to raise money for a charitable fund for fire victims.
Dalrymple is also a photographer and takes photographs for the calendar, he said.
“I was a little relieved to see that he was OK,” said DeMaria, who visited him Friday night.
Carli praised his firefighters for the way they handled a fire in which they had to rescue two of their own and a civilian before they could begin battling the blaze.
“I’m just so proud of the firefighters,” he said. “To have a couple of guys injured and have the firefighters maintain their focus is a testament to how good my guys are.”