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A massive apartment-building fire killed two Boston firefighters Wednesday when they were trapped in the basement in the city's upscale Back Bay neighborhood.

Fast-moving, wind-whipped flames roared through the roof of the four-story building, along with a towering column of smoke.

Deputy Fire Chief Joseph Finn said firefighters rescued people from the upper floors.

He identified the two killed as Lt. Edward J. Walsh and firefighter Michael R. Kennedy. He said they went inside the building and then into the basement, where it appears the fire started. They called a mayday two or three minutes after entering but couldn't be saved, Finn said.

Finn said the fire appears accidental but the cause is under investigation.

Boston EMS spokesman Nick Martin told the Associated Press that 18 people, all police officers or firefighters, were rushed to hospitals. No civilians were injured.

Firefighters crouched beneath the brick building's lower windows as flames poured out of them.

The nine-alarm fire was at 298 Beacon St., overlooking Storrow Drive and the adjacent Charles River. Property records show the $1.6 million building houses apartments.

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