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Bronx Blast Kills 'Rising Star' Fire Battalion Chief

Emergency service personnel work at the scene of a house explosion in the Bronx on Tuesday.
Mary Altaffer
Emergency service personnel work at the scene of a house explosion in the Bronx on Tuesday.

A fire department battalion chief described as a "rising star" by his department was killed in an explosion in the Bronx on Tuesday morning. At least 12 other people were injured in the blast.

Michael J. Fahy was directing the fire department's response to a complaint about a gas odor coming from a two-story private residence, in an area under investigation for growing marijuana, New York officials said at a press conference.

Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said that Fahy was working with local units to determine the source of the gas odor early Tuesday. Response teams had been working at the scene for about an hour, including getting people out of surrounding buildings, when the explosion occurred.

"It blew a large portion of the roof off, onto the street, where the members were," Nigro said. Fahy "was struck on the head and various other parts of his body" and died at a nearby hospital.

Photos from the scene show wood and debris scattered around the area of the blast.

Fahy served the department for 17 years and was a father of three. "He was on the rise, he was a star, a brave man. He was doing what fire officers do this morning," Nigro said. "It's a terrible loss for the family, for the Fahy family. It's a terrible loss for the fire department family. ... We feel it deeply."

Fahy held a doctorate from New York Law School, according to The Associated Press. His father also served in the fire department, Nigro told reporters.

Nigro said firefighters, police, civilians and workers from the Con Edison utility company were also hurt but those injuries were not life-threatening. He added that the last time a New York firefighter died in the line of duty was 2014.

Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill said at the news conference that a couple of weeks ago, the department received information that there was possibly a marijuana grow house on the block. Law enforcement officials are in the initial stages of that investigation, he added.

"It's a reminder of the dangers our first responders face every day, the dangers that the men and women face every day and the bravery with which they do their job," Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.

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