BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Gov. Larry Hogan and Mayor Brandon Scott offered their condolences at a memorial service for firefighters Lt. Paul Butrim, Lt. Kelsey Sadler, and Kenneth Lacayo at the Baltimore Convention Center on Wednesday.
The three firefighters were fatally injured when part of a vacant house collapsed on them. Thousands of firefighters from across the country were projected to attend their memorial service and, for the first time in more than two centuries, the entire Baltimore City Fire Department went out of service.
Hogan described how firefighters ventured out into "the dark and searing cold" to fight a house fire a few minutes after 6 a.m. on Jan. 24.
They rushed into the house because they had received reports that someone was trapped inside of it.
"When we learned we lost them, it shook us to the core," Hogan said. "The loss of a firefighter or first responder in the line of duty is always heartbreaking. To lose three is an unimaginable tragedy."
A fourth firefighter, John McMaster, was also injured by falling debris when part of the house collapsed.
McMaster was initially listed in critical condition but was released from Shock Trauma on Jan. 27.
"Kenny, Kelsey, and Paul loved being firefighters. They always put the job first, without regard for their own personal safety," Hogan said. "They all chose to serve something greater than themselves, and they all felt a deep-rooted obligation to make their community a better and safer place, even when it meant putting their own lives on the line for the rest of us."
Scott described the death of the firefighters as an "unspeakable" and "unthinkable" tragedy. He said at their memorial service that Wednesday was "one of the toughest days" that the city was going to go through.
"Baltimore as a city is grieving the loss of the lives of three of the bravest among us, those who every day decide to get up and not just face the danger but run headfirst into danger to save strangers," he said. "It takes a special kind of person--no really, an extraordinary kind of person--to do that, not just once in your lifetime but each and every day. It takes a special kind of person to show that kind of love to fellow humankind."
Baltimore City Fire Chief Niles Ford thanked firefighters from other parts of the region who made it possible for city firefighters to attend the memorial service for their fallen colleagues.
Firefighters on loan to the city battled at least one house fire and extinguished a fire at a vacant school during the memorial service.
"Admittedly, this has been a very, very difficult several days," Niles said. "To lose one member of the BCFD family is a terrible tragedy. To lose three is almost unbearable."
Butrim, Sadler, and Lacayo "served humanity," he said.
The memorial service started at 10 a.m. Afterward, the bodies of the firefighters were escorted to Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, a 70-acre cemetery in Timonium. A wake will be held at the Maryland State Fairgrounds.
On Monday, Hogan presented memorial citations at the two Baltimore fire stations where the firefighters worked. On Tuesday, hundreds of people attended a joint viewing for the three firefighters at the Duda-Ruck funeral home in Dundalk.
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