Evidence suggests backdraft to blame for firefighter tragedy - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

Evidence suggests backdraft to blame for firefighter tragedy

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Trained eyes and accounts from the scene of Wednesday’s tragic Back Bay fire appear to show that a backdraft caused Lt. Ed Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy to get trapped and killed.

Deputy Boston Fire Chief Joseph Finn first suggested the idea Wednesday night at a news conference.

"The wind was blowing in off the Charles. There was an explosion, what we call a backdraft, occurred. Again it was all wind driven,” Finn said.

The Massachusetts Firefighter Academy has a flashover simulator, which is used to train emergency responders on these types of situations, but in this case there didn’t seem to be any warning.

Officials haven't confirmed that it was a backdraft, but area fire chiefs say they would agree with the suggestion

“The investigators would have to be able to verify that, but based on the evidence from the video and all of the accounts from the people who witnessed it on the scene it would definitely be consistent with a backdraft having occurred,” Holliston Fire Chief Michael Cassidy said.

An explosion of fire can happen when a rush of air comes into an enclosed area. Combustible gases build up from a lack of oxygen, then suddenly ignite when a window breaks or a door swings open.

“It certainly could be one of the reasons why they suffered such a tragic outcome,” Cassidy said. “When all of those conditions come together at the wrong time you can have a very devastating outcome.”
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