By Bill Bradley, contributing editor
Two firefighters lost their lives in the Back Bay neighborhood fire, which Brady witnessed just down the street from his brownstone home. Much of Boston was gripped by the tragedy Wednesday night.
"I can't express my gratitude and thanks enough to all the first responders and the people that were fighting that fire for all night last night," Brady told WEEI-AM radio in Boston. "I had a firsthand view of all the action and was blown away by all the bravery and the teamwork that they really displayed.
"I feel so badly for the families of the two firefighters lost," he said, "and obviously all the men that were associated with fire losing one of their close friends.
"I mean, we athletes think that we're heroes, but when you witness it first hand, you realize who the real heroes are in this world and that's the people that work hard to protect our lives and protect our safety and our freedoms as Americans. That's certainly the firefighters and the Boston police and the state troopers. I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart."
Brady said he was in his bedroom four doors down from the fire. He could tell it was a harrowing scene by the growing number of first responders at the site.
"I could look at the front of my house and could see the flames," he said. "I went back about two minutes later and I just saw it growing. At that point, I went to the back part of the house from my deck and could see what they were up against. At that point, all the fire engines were coming down the street. ... One point I saw a big explosion of flames and a lot of firemen were coming out of the building and that's when I really got nervous."
Thirteen firefighters were injured, most with burns or broken bones, beyond the two were killed. Windy conditions caused the fire to spread quickly through house.
"I felt so badly for them," Brady said. "Our lives were never in jeopardy at all. Thanks to those brave men who were there fighting that fire for us. It was a very intense day of weather and wind.
"I have such a newfound respect for nature and how it can get out of control. And watching those men try to put out the fire in freezing conditions and all the different elements they had to deal with. ... They gave everything they had. A few of them paid the ultimate price. My respect and love and admiration for what they do is, well, it's hard to put into words."