BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Early Monday morning, a West Baltimore community woke up to commotion.

“I saw just ambulances and fire trucks and so many firemen were there and it was just crazy,” said JP Malan who lives nearby.

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And when the news spread, everyone was overcome with grief. Three Baltimore firefighters died, and one is in critical condition after a vacant rowhouse that caught fire partially collapsed.

The firefighters killed were identified as Lt. Paul Butrim, firefighter/paramedic Kelsey Sadler, and EMT/firefighter Kenny Lacayo. John McMaster, an EMT/firefighter, is on life support in critical but stable condition, officials said.

“It broke my heart cause I saw the firemen, I saw it seemed like hundreds of them gathered and you could feel the weight of grief of them,” said Vincent, who lives nearby.

“It hits different when you hear what actually happened,” resident Paul Amaya said.

For those who knew them well, the pain is real. Lieutenant Jay Gruber has known firefighter paramedic Kenny Lacayo for over ten years and calls his loss gigantic.

“You couldn’t have a more enthusiastic volunteer and a better person,” Gruber said.

The two were volunteers at the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Square. Gruber describes Lacayo as someone everyone wanted to be friends with. Lacayo was paramedic of the year in 2016 and in 2018, he and his unit received a citation for saving someone after a pedestrian was struck by a car.

“He was always in a good mood, he was always friendly, he was always coming in to help,” Gruber said.

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Lacayo just bought a house and was excited for life, Gruber said.

“He was really universally loved by all of the members of the rescue squad, he was so dedicated to what he did here,” Gruber added.

And Lieutenant Paul Butrim, who received a Valor Award in 2015 for responding to an apartment building with people trapped inside. Butrim was one of the first into the building, saving a trapped child who he found face down in a bedroom.

He performed CPR on the child until paramedics arrived.

“They put their lives at risk for us,” said Vincent, holding back tears.

Kelsey Sadleyr was a firefighter and paramedic who, like Butrim, had been with the department for 15 years.

“Rest their souls and wishing the best for their families,” Amaya said.

EMT Firefighter John McMaster is in critical condition at Shock Trauma. A friend tells WJZ it was his dream to be a firefighter and when he become one, he was so proud.

“They left home this morning expecting to return and they’re not and that’s sad, that hurts,” Vincent said.

The four have collectively served 44 years with the department.

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“Baltimore owes them the deepest gratitude and respect,” Mayor Brandon Scott said.

Annie Rose Ramos