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Thousands Turn Out To Honor Fallen Firefighters' Final Ride Through Baltimore

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Hundreds of fire trucks left the Baltimore Convention Center on Wednesday in a powerful show of respect for three firefighters who died when part of a burning house collapsed on them last week.

Even complete strangers stopped to pay their respects and watch as Lt. Paul Butrim, Lt. Kelsey Sadler, and Kenny Lacayo took a final ride through the city they fought and died for.

The procession traveled over 17 miles to Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens—a 70-acre cemetery in Timonium

"I thought that last Monday was one of the worst days in the history of Baltimore City," one woman said.

Butrim, Sadler and Lacayo died after a partial collapse trapped them in a burning, vacant house in West Baltimore on Jan. 24. They had gone into the building because they had received multiple reports of people trapped inside of it.

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.

Fire and medic crews from all over Maryland and Washington, D.C., covered for the Baltimore City Fire Department on Wednesday in what was described as an "unprecedented" level of mutual aid.

"Never has a large metropolitan city placed all of its apparatus out of service at one time," Acting Secretary of Maryland Department of Emergency Management Russell Strickland said.

In a city with thousands of abandoned rowhomes, firefighters are constantly finding people living in vacant houses, firefighters' union presidents told WJZ.

Just two days before Monday's fire, there was an almost identical fire just a block over from South Stricker Street. Fallen Firefighter Kenny Lacayo responded that day.

Josh Fannon, the president of  Baltimore Fire Officers IAFF Local 964,  said there was just one difference in the fatal fire versus the fire from the weekend before the three firefighters died.

"The floors didn't give out," Fannon said. "You just never know. It's horrific. It's tragic."

During the memorial service, Fannon described Butrim, 37, as a firefighter who threw himself into every detail of the job and became a mentor to younger members.

"He took them under his wing and taught them every aspect of fire service life, whether we're talking tricks of the trade, conducting effective search and rescues, ventilation techniques and much more," Fannon said during the memorial service.

Sadler's sister, Lacey Marino, described the 33-year-old firefighter as a confident, creative and supportive person who lived life to the fullest.

"Kelsey loved life, and she lived it like she meant it, all gas and no brakes," Marino said. "She was always up for any task or challenge."

Lacayo, 30, was remembered as a music lover who traveled all over to attend concerts.

His fiancée, Clara Fenelon, said, "I recently told him, I could not believe that life had done a full spin, and somehow I end up on top. I was on top of the world with my Kenny."

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is seeking a person of interest in connection with the fire on South Stricker Street that killed three firefighters.

An official with Local 734 shared pictures of people setting up and then settling in at vacant homes.

"The individual we are seeking to identify may have important information that could aid in this investigation," said ATF Baltimore Acting Special Agent in Charge L. C. Cheeks, Jr. "We ask that anyone who knows the identity of this person come forward so Special Agents and investigators can continue efforts to find the cause of this tragic fire."

The reward for the person of interest has increased to 100,000 due to contributions from Mayor Brandon Scott, Baltimore County Johnny Olszewski, Gov. Larry Hogan, and local firefighters' unions.

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