By: Ellie Romano

Email: ERomano@ABC6.com

Twitter: @ERomanoABC6

WORCESTER, Mass. (WLNE) - It's been 20 years since six Worcester firefighters lost their lives fighting the "Cold Storage Fire."

On Dec. 3, 1999, the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. building caught fire. The abandoned building was nearly a century old and full of flammable material.

The fire broke out when two homeless people inside the warehouse started fighting and knocked over a candle. 

Lt. Thomas Spencer, Lt. James Lyons, Paul Brotherton, Timothy Jackson, Jeremiah Lucey and Joseph McGuirk lost their lives looking for those homeless people believed to be inside the burning building.

"We can never forget what those six guys did for us. What they did for the community. What they did for each other," said Worcester Fire Chief Michael Lavoie.

The city of Worcester held a memorial ceremony on Tuesday night to remember the fallen heroes. 

Current and retired Worcester firefighters, a color guard and band marched to the Franklin Street fire station.

The ceremony featured remarks from Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Fire Chief Michael Lavoie, City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. and actor Denis Leary, a Worcester native.

"We all remember where we were that night. We remember the cold. We remember the smell of the smoke. We remember the chaos. We remember it like it was yesterday," said Lt. Gov. Polito.

Lucey was Leary’s cousin, and Spencer was a childhood friend. The actor created the Leary Firefighter Foundation after the Cold Storage Fire.

"We have never forgotten these brave men and the ultimate sacrifice they made 20 years ago tonight," said Leary.

Three other Worcester firefighters have died in the line of duty since the Cold Storage Fire. Most recently, Lt. Jason Menard died while fighting a house fire in November. Christopher Roy was killed in a fire in 2018, and Jon Davies died in an apartment fire in 2011.

©WLNE-TV/ABC6 2019