NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said a Bronx battalion chief who was killed in a house explosion was a “rising star” in the department.

Battalion Chief Michael Fahy, 44, had been responding to a report of a gas leak a home exploded in the Bronx. He was a 17-year FDNY veteran and a father of three, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

“Battalion Chief Michael Fahy was a rising star in this department,” said Jake Lemonda, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association.

“He was on the rise, he was a star, a brave man,” Nigro said. “It’s a terrible loss for the Fahy family, it’s a loss for the fire department family. We feel it deeply. We lost a hero today and our members are all saddened.”

“Our hearts go out to the Fahy family,” de Blasio said. “A family that has given so much and today, has made the ultimate sacrifice to this city.”

Dozens of firefighters came to NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital in Upper Manhattan, some carrying American flags, to pay their respects to Fahy’s family.

Several firefighters removed American flags from the back of their trucks after Fahy’s death was confirmed, CBS2’s Alex Denis reported. One in particular quietly walked down the sidewalk toward the hospital entrance while carefully folding the flag.

Commissioner Nigro once worked alongside Fahy’s retired firefighter father, Thomas Fahy.

Michael Fahy had been promoted to chief of Battalion 19 about two years ago.

“We feel it deeply today,” Nigro said. “We’re thankful for the support of the mayor, the support of the NYPD who transported Chief Fahy here and desperately tried to save him. It’s a sad day.”

At the hospital, fire trucks from multiple fire stations lined the street. Dozens of other first responders and city officials have also arrived.

Commissioner Nigro once worked alongside Fahy’s retired firefighter father, Thomas Fahy. Michael Fahy had been promoted to chief of Battalion 19 about two years ago.

“We feel it deeply today,” Nigro said. “We’re thankful for the support of the mayor, the support of the NYPD who transported Chief Fahy here and desperately tried to save him. It’s a sad day.”

At the hospital, fire trucks from multiple fire stations lined the street. Dozens of other first responders and city officials have also arrived.

“I am saddened to hear about the explosion that occurred in the Bronx and the tragic loss of life of the brave FDNY battalion chief,” U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), who represents Upper Manhattan and parts of the Bronx, said in a statement. “We are grateful to our first responders who attended to the initial gas leak and those who are dealing with the aftermath of the explosion. I join my constituents as we keep our neighbors, those injured and their families in our prayers.”

Fahy was a husband and the father of two sons – ages 11 and 6 – and an 8-year-old daughter.

Neighbors said while Fahy loved his job, he was truly a family man who loved his wife and children. He was described as the kind of dad who took his kids to every school field trip.

All day, relatives and friends were seen visiting the family’s home in Yonkers.

“There’s nothing but kind words to be said about this man and his family,” said neighbor Jackie Sutton. “He was just a very wonderful neighbor.”

Another neighbor described Fahy as “a model in every way; the best of the best.”

Donna Cohen told WCBS 880’s Stephanie Colombini she knew Fahy as a youth baseball coach for the Hillcrest Lakers Community Club.

“He was a good dad, a good coach, a friendly man — it’s just sorry,” Cohen said.

The house at 300 W. 234th St. in the Bronx and surrounding buildings had been evacuated Tuesday following a gas leak report. Fahy was directing operations from the street when he was struck by falling debris.

Police Commissioner James O’Neill said part of the investigation will involve looking into the location as a possible marijuana “grow house.”

A man was in custody and was being questioned late Tuesday afternoon in connection with the explosion.

Nigro said there were renters living in the house. Several other firefighters were also hurt, but all are expected to recover.

De Blasio has ordered all flags to be flown at half-staff in Fahy’s honor. The last FDNY member to be killed in the line of duty was Lt. Gordon Ambelas, who died while fighting a fire in Brooklyn on July 6, 2014.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (2)
  1. Yakoshiba Ugazaki says:

    It is unacceptable for a brave man who is supposed to save lives in legitimate fires to lose his life in an explosion because someone was cooking narcotics. And who is the owner of this house? They should be held responsible too. Rest in peace, chief! Condolences to the family.

  2. PolyaPal says:

    He was my wife’s nephew. We saw him at a family gathering last Sunday. Requiescat in pace.

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