Two Buffalo firefighters were killed in an early-morning fire at a deli on Genesee Street on the city's East Side, the department's worst loss of life in the last 26 years.
The dead were identified as Lt. Charles W. "Chip" McCarthy Jr., 45, of Rescue 1, and Firefighter Jonathan S. Croom, 34, of Ladder 7.
The deaths were confirmed at about 9:50 a.m. by the Rev. Derren L. Young, Erie County Medical Center trauma chaplain. The bodies were taken out of the building on gurneys draped with American flags.
Reports from the scene indicated the two firefighters may have fallen through the first floor while searching for a civilian victim. Earlier reports that someone was trapped inside were not confirmed, and some officials questioned whether a third person had been trapped.
"It's a very tragic day for the city of Buffalo," Mayor Byron W. Brown said during a noon news conference. "Our hearts are broken right now."
McCarthy leaves behind his wife, three children and a 6-month-old grandchild. Croom leaves behind a 9-month-old child and a fiancee. A few years ago, Croom himself lost a young child.
Fire Commissioner Michael S. Lombardo fought back tears during the news conference, saying he knew both men and described them as "tremendous firefighters" who both received honors for their work in the past.