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Peabody Mourns Firefighter James Rice

This article is more than 7 years old.
Peabody firefighters walk to the wake of James Rice Thursday, Dec. 29. Rice died fighting a fire in Peabody last Friday. (Nancy Eve Cohen for WBUR)
Peabody firefighters walk to the wake of James Rice Thursday, Dec. 29. Rice died fighting a fire in Peabody last Friday. (Nancy Eve Cohen for WBUR)

Hundreds of mourners, including Gov. Deval Patrick, attended the funeral of a Peabody firefighter who died battling a fire last week.

The funeral for 42-year-old James Rice was held Friday morning at the St. John the Baptist church in Peabody.

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 and Worcester District Chief Frank Diliddo.

"There's a select few that do what we do, understand the dangers that we face and understand the family life that we lead," Diliddo said. "It doesn’t matter if they are Peabody, Wayland, Sandwich, Worcester. It’s a firefighter. A firefighter is a firefighter."

Speaking at the wake Thursday, Peabody Fire Captain Jay Dowling said Rice's death is a huge loss.

"He was a great man, a family man. Love his wife and kids, always with them," Dowling said. "As a friend, he was a great friend. He'd do anything for you. Just whatever he asked he'd do. He was there for you all the time."

The 11-year veteran was killed while fighting a three-alarm blaze last Friday at a multi-unit home.

The exact cause of death remains under investigation but officials believe he may have breathed in toxic fumes.

The fire was ruled accidental.

Rice leaves a wife and three children.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

This program aired on December 30, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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