Saturday morning, hundreds gathered at Saint Sebastian's Roman Catholic Church in Queens to honor three firefighters who were killed in what is known as the Father's Day Fire.
On June 17, 2001, a peaceful Father's Day was interrupted at around 2 p.m. by a fire in Astoria, New York. As the FDNY arrived at the scene and combated the fire for half an hour, a small explosion occurred followed by a huge blast. All the firefighters on the street were knocked over and the falling of walls trapped one firefighter, Brian Fahey, in the basement. Two firefighters, Harry Ford and John Downing, were removed from the scene in traumatic arrest and brought to Elmhurst Hospital where they passed away due to severe injuries.
On the scene team members were still trying to get to Fahey while others were trying to put out the fire. The battle spent the afternoon and evening. After about 4 hours, firefighters made it into the basement, but it was too late. FDNY lost three brave firefighters on that Father's Day of 2001.
Steve Spak, on his website, reflected the day saying, After watching this tragedy unfolding before my eyes, I could not help feel that this was one of the worst days in the history of the FDNY. I did not think it could be possible for anything as bad as this to ever happen again, but little did we know that 9/11 was less than three months away.
The source of the fire was later determined as an accident after some teenagers spilled gasoline, which was then ignited by a hot water heater.
Hundreds of members of the FDNY family attended a service on Saturday in remembrance of this tragedy and to honor the firefighters.
According to NY1, They were three fathers and to all of sudden to be taken from us on such a day I think was really, I thought it was very cruel, said widow Denise Ford. The children were so young at that point that for them to see their fathers memorialized now, it's a beautiful gift, said widow Mary Fahey.
There are eight children left behind by the three firefighters.