NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A New York City firefighter who helped evacuate hundreds of people during the Sept. 11 terror attack has died of cancer.

Thomas Phelan was 45.

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Family and friends told the New York Daily News that Phelan died from cancer linked to the toxic fumes at ground zero.

Phelan was a captain of a Statue of Liberty ferry during the 2001 attack. He helped in the evacuation of Lower Manhattan and ferried rescue workers and supplies to the scene.

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He joined the fire department in 2003 and was assigned to Marine 9 in Staten Island.

The Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York says more than 170 firefighters have died as the result of illnesses related to the World Trade Center attacks.

A study a decade after the 9/11 attacks found mixed indicators about cancer rates, but local lawmakers have continued to push for federal healthcare support for first responders who worked during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks – despite what some see as a move to seperate current programs from federal programs.

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(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)