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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady saluted firefighters who battled a Back Bay blaze at a brownstone a few doors down from his home on Wednesday night and mourned the deaths of the two who were killed in the line of duty.
Brady, who said he witnessed the fire from his home, called it "one of the scarier days" he has experienced while living in Boston.
"I can't express my gratitude and thanks enough to all the first responders and people that were there fighting that fire all night last night," Brady said in an interview Thursday morning on Boston radio station WEEI. "I had a firsthand view of all the action and was just blown away by the bravery, the teamwork that they displayed."
Tom Brady watches as a 9 alarm fire rips through a home 2 doors down from his home at the 300 block of Beacon St. pic.twitter.com/paNrNKKS2L- Boston Herald (@bostonherald) March 27, 2014
The nine-alarm fire, which spread quickly because of wind gusts of nearly 45 mph, took the lives of Lt. Edward J. Walsh Jr. and Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy, who became trapped in the basement of the Beacon Street apartment building.
"I feel so badly for the families of the two firefighters that were lost and obviously all the men that were fighting that fire yesterday losing their close friends," Brady said.
"We as athletes think we're heroes, but when you witness firsthand what we saw yesterday, you realize who the real heroes are in this world. It's the people that work hard to protect our lives and protect our safety ... certainly the firefighters and Boston police and the state troopers. I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart."
Brady described the scene near his home, saying he watched from his balcony as the fire spread. He eventually took his family to a friend's home as a precaution.
"At one point, I saw a pretty big explosion of flames and a lot of the firemen were coming out of the building, and that's when I really got nervous," Brady said. "Our lives were never in jeopardy at all thanks to those brave men fighting that fire for us.
"It was a very intense day of weather and wind. You just can't imagine all those things that really happened, how quickly those things can get out of control. I have a newfound respect for nature and what it's all about, and under those conditions for those men to try to put out the fire in freezing conditions and all the different elements they had to deal with. There's no way to prepare for things like that."
The blaze left 13 other firefighters injured and engulfed the neighborhood in black smoke.
"Those firemen, they're in our thoughts and prayers all day," Brady said. "Without them it could have been a very tragic day for not only the houses in the neighborhood but the lives of the people they kept safe."