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Ceremonial Ground Breaking for Strand Theater Fire Memorial
Updated On: Jan 04, 2008

Strand Theatre memorial takes shape; view story to see video

By Maria Papadopoulos, Enterprise staff writer

BROCKTON — Ed Burrell can still hear the cries of his fellow firefighters, 66 years after the deadly Strand Theatre fire that killed 13 city firefighters and injured more than 20 others.

Burrell, then in his 20s, was with his company on the roof of another building next to the theater when the west section of the Strand's roof came crashing down.

“I can remember hearing them screeching down inside when they were trapped,” the 93-year-old Burrell, the last surviving city firefighter who was called to the blaze on March 10, 1941, said solemnly Tuesday.

He was among dozens of city firefighters and officials attending a groundbreaking ceremony for a planned Strand Theatre memorial at City Hall.

The monument, built of bronze and granite, will depict a city firefighter from the Strand Theatre blaze, said Robert Shure, president of Skylight Studios Inc. in Woburn who will sculpt the monument. It will stand more than 10 feet tall outside of City Hall, he said.

“The firefighter will be represented with the type of uniform used during the Strand era,” Shure said.

Work on the monument will begin next month. A dedication ceremony is slated for May 10, 2008.


Fire Lt. Richard Baker, co-chairman of the Strand Theatre Memorial Committee, said the monument will cost $156,000. About $105,000 of those funds have already been raised through the community, he said.

The memorial will honor the “sacrifice made by 13 Brockton firefighters,” Baker said.

“It holds near and dear to our hearts ... we've never done anything of this undertaking. We hope that when all is said and done, that everyone will be proud of the statue and feel honored,” he said.

The Strand, formerly located at 15 School St., had a seating capacity of 1,685, making it the largest theater in the city.

After the Strand fire, Burrell went on to serve as the city's fire chief, retiring in 1979.

But that fateful night in 1941 never left his memory.

“A lot of tears,” he said, recalling the tragedy.

                                                    Click here for more pictures

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