Editorial / Opinion Sentinel & Enterprise 1/30/2006 Claire McNamara, the widow of fallen firefighter Martin H. McNamara V, angered many residents when we first reported she was considering filing a lawsuit against area fire departments. Her husband died in a November 2003 Lancaster fire. After reading last Sunday’s story in the Sentinel & Enterprise concerning a state police report about the deadly fire, we think many residents may feel differently now. The report, which the Sentinel & Enterprise obtained through a Freedom of Information request, details how what seemed to be a manageable fire quickly deteriorated into a mess that ended in tragedy. The report also shows how McNamara pleaded for help during the fire, but repeated attempts to rescue him from the basement failed. “It basically got totally dark down there and you could tell it was going to s ——————————————————————————– ,” Clinton Deputy Fire Chief John E. McLaughlin said of the fire. The Fire Investigation Summary Report, which was completed on Dec. 2, 2004, includes statements from numerous area firefighters and residents who lived at the 2 1/2 story apartment house at 76 Mill St., where McNamara died in the basement. The report does not assign any blame for what happened, but there were clearly terrible mistakes made that may have lead to his death. Indeed, firefighters on scene thought they had the situation under control until a decision was made to turn on a Positive Pressure Ventilation fan at the front door. Instead of helping to totally extinguish the fire, the fan seemed to ignite it, causing bedlam in the basement of the home. And despite the heroic efforts of several firefighters to save McNamara, he died, leaving his wife and three children behind. It’s important to note that fighting a fire is an inherently dangerous job. There’s no doubt McNamara knew that when he responded to the call on that fateful day. But we take no joy in saying there also seems to be little doubt that the fire command made serious mistakes that turned a small, manageable fire into a tragedy. We hope that fire chiefs throughout North Central Massachusetts will redouble their efforts to train their firefighters and command staff to make sure such a tragedy never repeats itself here. It’s painful to acknowledge — and no doubt hurtful for the firefighters who battled the fire — but a careful reading of the State Police report leaves you with just one conclusion: Marty McNamara shouldn’t have died that day.