The men of the Worcester, Massachusetts Fire Department knew it was a dangerous building: 266 Franklin Street - a six-storey windowless hunk of brick and mortar, it's labyrinth interior a jumble of narrow hallways and meat lockers lined with heavy steel doors, all identical to each other. Yet on the evening of 3 December 1999 they would be forced to enter in response to a three-alarm blaze - the type firefighters love - on a routine search and rescue assignment. Inside, they would find themselves trapped in a furnace of blazing orange heat, black smoke and poison gas, struggling to survive in an ill-fated ordeal that would push them to the very limits of loyalty and courage. This minute-by-minute account of an especially lethal fire vividly depicts what went wrong, and how the lives of these dedicated men - and a community - were forever changed.
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