Hard to believe it’s been 17 years.
Want to advertise with Turtleboy? Email us at Turtleboysports@gmail.com for more information, and check out our website about types of advertising we offer.
All Worcesterites remember where they were on December 3, 1999, when they first heard about the Worcester Cold and Storage fire that killed firefighters Jeremiah Lucey, Thomas Spencer, Jay Lyons, Timothy Jackson, Joseph McGuirk, and Paul Brotherton. Turtleboy was in high school, working at State Liquors in bottle returns, sitting there drinking Mike’s Hard Lemonade out of a coke can, when the other guy came back and said that two firefighters were missing. Then that number grew to four and finally six who didn’t come out of that hellhole of a building. If this happened in 2016 we would all know everything about it because we’d be following updates on Twitter and Facebook, but back in 99 you found out through word of mouth.
It didn’t really hit me until I heard that one of the six was Tom Spencer. Growing up in the Tatnuck community it was impossible not to know who Tom Spencer was. At the Tatnuck School Memorial Day celebrations Mr. Spencer was always down there in his car, with his firefighting formal wear on, and his cool hat, and to us kids he was like superhuman. All firefighters were. We had a fire station down the street and when we took trips to there it was pretty much the greatest field trip you could go on.
But more importantly he was a Dad, as were many of the other six. That’s what hit so hard about December 3, 1999. These six guys were part of the fabric of the community. It’s hard to live around here and not have come in contact with at least one of those six men at some point. When you watch the news and you see that people die it doesn’t really hit you because people die all the time. But when it’s people that were so heavily integrated into the community; people who had families and friends and went to school functions and barbecues and birthday parties – that’s when it truly home how real it was.
This picture is still surreal because of the fact that the flames are forming what looks like a firefighter on top of the building.
Before this happened I was kind of naive about what exactly firefighters did. Maybe I was just the dumb kid in class, but when I was growing up I thought that being a firefighter meant that you go to a fire in the truck and you spray water on it with a hose and then you go home. But the fact of the matter is that these guys run directly inside of cooking ovens that are on the verge of collapse. And they do it all to rescue people they don’t know. The Worcester 6 were looking for two homeless people. People who if they died, most of us wouldn’t have even thought about for more than a minute. That’s who these family men and pillars of the neighborhood sacrificed themselves for. And that in and of itself is remarkable.
This story from Worcester Magazine in 2009 is still the best write up I’ve ever seen on it. It’s a real time account of the whole story, including where the men were in the building, how they tried to put the fire out, and what a death trap that building really was. But Turtleboy will always remember where he was when this happened, and someday I’ll be able to tell Turtleboy Jr. about these six brave men.
Where were you when you first heard about this incident, and did you know any of the Worcester 6?
We urge you to support the Turtleboy Sponsors by doing business with them. Without them none of this is possible. Click on any of them to check out their sites or Facebook pages.