A veteran of the Watertown fire department died today during a two-alarm blaze while helping rescue an elderly man, the man's niece and their dogs as flames shot out an upstairs window, city officials and a neighbor said. Joseph A. Toscano, 54, a firefighter with the department since Sept. 26, 1996 and a married father of five children, succumbed to injuries after rushing into the single-family home on Merrifield Avenue, the city's deputy fire chief said. He had been taken to Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge where he died.
"I saw them carry that poor fireman out. They all went in with flames shooting out of the house," Bob Petrillo, 81, told the Herald. "I don't know how they do it. He went right into the flames."
Petrillo, who lives right next door, said the two-alarm blaze on Merrifield Avenue was the worst he's ever seen.