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Peabody Mourns Loss of Firefighter James Rice

The 10-year veteran died from injuries sustained during three-alarm blaze on Hancock Street Friday afternoon.

Firefighter Jim Rice, a 10-year veteran of the department, has died from injuries suffered while fighting on Friday afternoon.

Chief Steve Pasdon, speaking during a press conference late Friday afternoon, said Rice was injured between the first and second floors fighting the fire, which was reported at 1:24 p.m. Shortly after firefighters entered the building, there was a report of a firefighter down.

Fire crews were able to rescue Rice from the building and he was taken to Salem Hospital where he died later from his injuries. The nature of those injuries has not been officially released yet.

Pasdon, making several attempts to maintain his composure during the press conference, said Friday he was aware that Rice took in some "toxic fumes" while inside the building.

An autopsy is being conducted by the state Medical Examiner's Office.

Rice, 42, leaves behind a wife and three children. The chief said the Fire Department and community as a whole will miss Firefighter Rice.

“As a fire chief, I have 100 firefighters that work under me... I can say Firefighter James Rice was liked and loved by everybody. He was a very popular firefighter and also a very popular man in the community," said the chief.

Pasdon said the fire started in a second-floor apartment. told reporters that the power went out shortly before the fire.

Firefighters were able to get the blaze under control within 90 minutes, said Pasdon.

State Fire Marshal Steve Coan, extending his condolences to Rice's family and the department Friday night, said the fire is under investigation and will be conducted with his office, the Peabody Fire Department and the ATF.

While it was too early to speculate on the cause of the fire Friday night, Coan said, he and fire officials . The investigation, which had continued through the night, was still ongoing.

Coan said a resident was also injured in the fire and was taken to a hospital. That person is in good condition and did not suffer life-threatening injuries.

Fox 25 News spoke with Rice's brother- and sister-in-law Friday night on how the family is coping.

Pasdon told reporters during another press conference Saturday that the family is coping the best they can.

“I’m sure you can understand they’re devastated by the loss of a tremendous human being -- a great dad, husband, brother, son -- but considering everything they’re facing, they’re holding up remarkably well," Pasdon told reporters. "And I’m really impressed with that family and how they pulled together.”

Rice's was the first death in the line of duty in several years for the Fire Department.

A growing, makeshift memorial of bouquets, candles and Teddy Bears now occupies a spot outside the West Peabody Fire Station, which housed Rice's unit, Engine 5.

A memorial fund for Rice and a separate fund for the displaced residents .

James H Cavanaugh December 24, 2011 at 04:21 PM
My condolences to Jim Rice and his family. May God watch over them and help them through this crisis. James H Cavanaugh - Longtime Peabody Resident
Joel Saslaw December 24, 2011 at 04:28 PM
My condolences to the Rice family. Anyone who wishes to drop off toys and/or clothes for the families involved can do that at the main fire station in downtown Peabody. A fund has also been set up at North Shore Bank 32 Main St Peabody MA for any cash donations to help the families get back on there feet
todd shewchuk December 24, 2011 at 04:58 PM
As we left our firehouse this morning we took a moment to say a prayer to FF Rice, hoping that his family will be ok during this time of crisis. Your brother's in Chicago are thinking of yu and your family FF Rice. May God welcome you with open arms for the duty you provided for your community!!! As we send them on their way we would ring the bells 3-3-5 signaling them home and done with duty. God Bless all my fellow brothers and sisters keeping your communities safe!!!! R.I.P.
Linda Morse December 25, 2011 at 01:24 PM
May God bless your family as they face their first Christmas without you. You were such a hero on Friday, December 23rd. I am sure that God and all His Angels welcomed you with open arms. I shall pray for your entire family, especially your wife and three children. Rest in Peace.... Linda - Peabody Resident
Steve Shea December 25, 2011 at 03:46 PM
My deepest sympathies go out to the Rice Family, as well as the Peabody FD.

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