PEABODY (CBS/AP) — Hundreds of mourners paid their final respects Friday to a Peabody firefighter who died in the line of duty last week.
View: Images From The Funeral
Forty-two-year-old James Rice was killed while fighting a three-alarm blaze last Friday at a multi-unit home.
Firefighters from across the region lined the streets for the procession of Rice’s casket on Peabody Fire Engine 5 to St. John the Baptist Church.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports
The church was used for the service because the family’s church, St. Vasilios Greek Orthodox Church, is undergoing renovations.
Rice’s helmet was carried in the procession by Peabody Fire Captain Jay Dowling, a 17-year veteran of the department and a life-long friend.
“He was unselfish, kind, courageous, humble, and loyal,” Dowling said during the service. He called Rice a “loving husband, father, son and brother” whose “smile and laughter were contagious.”
A priest gave teddy bears to Rice’s wife and three children to remind them of their father and the tributes to him from fellow firefighters.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports
In keeping with tradition, Peabody Deputy Chief Joseph Daly rang a bell at the end of the service to signal Rice’s final call.
Afterwards, his casket was opened in Greek Orthodox tradition to anoint the body before burial.
Hundreds of firefighters, police officers and well-wishers attended a wake for Rice on Thursday, including the family of Worcester firefighter Jon Davies who was killed on duty about three weeks ago.
Several Worcester firefighters also attended the funeral Friday.
The exact cause of Rice’s death remains under investigation but officials believe he may have breathed in toxic fumes.
The fire was ruled accidental.
Rice was an 11-year veteran of the department.
WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson reports
WBZ-TV’s Sera Congi reports
WBZ-TV’s Alana Gomez reports
Two memorial funds have been set up:
Local 925 c/o James Rice
PO Box 4313
Peabody, MA 01960
James Rice Memorial Fund
32 Main Street
Peabody, MA 01960
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