Tom Brady lives about four doors down from the site of the Back Bay blaze that claimed the lives of two Boston firefighters on Wednesday. The Patriots quarterback called in to the Dennis and Callahan Show on Thursday morning to express his gratitude for all the work -- and the bravery -- he witnessed from first responders in the chaos.
"I can't express my gratitude and thanks enough to all the first responders and the people that were there fighting that fire all night last night," he said. "I had a first-hand view of all the action and was just blown away by the bravery and the teamwork that they really displayed. I've lived in the Back Bay for a long time and that was one of the scarier days.
"I feel so badly for the families of the two firefighters (Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh Jr. and Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy) that were lost and obviously all the men that were associated with fighting that fire yesterday, losing one of their close friends. We as athletes think that we're heroes, but when you witness first hand what I saw yesterday, you realize who the real heroes are in this world and that's the people that work hard to protect our lives, and protect our safety and our freedom as Americans. That's the firefighters, the Boston Police and the State Troopers. I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart."
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
Brady explained that he was in his bedroom when his wife, Gisele Bundchen, brought his attention to the nearby fire.
"I looked out the front of our house, I could see the flames, and I kind of went back to my room," Brady said. "I went back two minutes later, and I could see it growing. Went to back part of house to my deck and could see what they were up against. At that point all the fire engines were coming down the street.
"I was watching obviously for a long time. 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. I felt really badly for them. Our lives were never really in jeopardy at all thanks to those men, brave men, who were fighting that fire for us."
Brady said he and his family eventually sought the safety of a neighbor's home, not knowing how the fire would develop. As he watched, he could see just how difficult it was to squelch the flames; firefighters spraying water from Beacon Street in the direction of the Charles River had the water sent back in their direction because the wind off of the Charles was so strong.
"They gave everything they had, and a few paid the ultimate price," Brady said. "My respect and sincerity and love and admiration for what they do is hard to put into words."
Brady said he has a new-found respect for nature and its power after what he witnessed last night.
"You realize how strong an event that is when you realize that your house could just be gone," he said. "You gotta think about . . . Obviously our lives are what's most important. The firemen who risk their lives, I can't have enough respect toward. I drive by the fire station in Back Bay on Hereford and Boylston, driven by that fire station thousands of times in all my years in the Back Bay. That was the group closest to the action and the first ones into the building. I can't thank them enough. The tragedy the fire station's gone through . . ."
Brady was clearly affected by what he witnessed, moved by the work of those who risked their lives to keep his family and his neighbors safe.
"Those firemen are in my thoughts and prayers all day and my family," he said. "Without them, it could have been a very tragic day. Not only for the houses in the neighborhood, but the lives of the people. They kept everybody safe, and that's really where we can't thank them enough."