Paul A. MacMurray
August 27, 1994
The following is a summary of the incident and of the commitment made by Paul A. “Orville” MacMurray.
A. “Orville” MacMurray, an 11-year veteran of the Hudson Falls Fire
Department, Made the ultimate sacrifice at a fire in the Parkview
Hotel, a Three-story, 45-room edifice, on August 27, 1994.
tragic tale of a true American hero begins at 1958 hours on Saturday
August 27, 1994. Paul, along with his wife, Esther, and three children,
Kristen, 10, Angela, 7, Katlyn, 4, and others were celebrating one of
the girl’s birthday when the alarm of fire was sounded by Washington
County Fire Control for "Box 22" the Parkview Hotel located at 140 Main
Street in the Village of Hudson Falls, NY.
arriving on the scene at 2003 hours as part of the first alarm
assignment, Firefighter MacMurray, a member of Engine Co. 362, and
Firefighter Thomas Center, a member of Truck Co. 363, were detailed by
Chief John J. Santa Croce to conduct a primary search of the second
floor of the hotel.
Santa Croce and Second Assistant Chief Paul M. Dietrich, the first
arriving officers on the scene, had sized up the situation and, finding
fire in the rear of the 95-year old structure, decided to institute
immediate primary search for occupants and aggressively attack the fire
to prevent the spread of the conflagration.
MacMurray and Center, equipped with complete turnout gear and wearing
SCBA’s, proceeded to the second floor to begin the search and rescue
operation. They encountered a light smoke condition described as
similar to “food on the stove,” with very little heat present. In a
professional manner, and using their many years of experience and
training, MacMurray and Center successfully removed several occupants
and returned to the second floor to continue the primary search.
they climbed the stairway to the second floor and advanced along the
hallway, Paul and Tom encountered heavy thick smoke and a rapid buildup
of heat. As the situation got worse, building up to “flashover”
conditions, Firefighters MacMurray and Center made the decision to
leave the second floor. While they were retreating, flashover occurred
and physical contact was lost between the two. Firefighter Center had
located the center stairwell, realized that Paul was not with him and
made a desperate attempt to reestablish contact and guide Paul safely
down the stairs. After searching as long as conditions permitted, Tom
descended the stairs and made contact with the Firefighters on the
first floor to advise them of the situation.
upon receiving word that Firefighter MacMurray was down, a second
search team tried to gain access to the second floor, but they were
driven back by the rapidly moving inferno, and the decision was made by
command that an exterior entry be made. The building was laddered and
an attempt was made to gain access through the balcony. Again
Firefighters were driven back by the intense flames and heavy smoke.
The orders passed at this time from command to evacuate the building.
All interior forces were withdrawn, and the mode was shifted to
defensive. The fire was spreading throughout the structure with
fire continued well into the early hours of Sunday, August 28, and
heavy equipment was needed to continue the search for Firefighter
MacMurray. The body of Firefighter MacMurray was finally located at
Monday morning, August 29, 1994, an unemployed drifter and two month
resident of the Parkview Hotel, admitted to intentionally setting the
fire that resulted in the death of Firefighter Paul MacMurray. On
Friday, March 1, 1995, the individual was sentenced to a maximum prison
term of 25 years to life for the arson and murder of Paul MacMurray.
Paul A. MacMurray, who unselfishly answered his final alarm on August
27, 1994, at the Parkview Hotel, is the epitome of the volunteer fire
service. Leaving his daughter’s birthday party to answer the alarm, he
paid the ultimate price for his dedication to the citizens of Hudson
Falls. Donning an SCBA and entering a burning building on the floor
above the fire is a heroic act of bravery, the most dangerous situation
that a Firefighter will encounter. Paul did not hesitate to take this
risk, and along with Tom entered the building to aid the victims of
this heinous disaster.
Paul A. MacMurray is truly an American hero
u DUTY u HONOR u COURAGE u