Photo: The scene of the fire. (Courtesy Watertown News)
Dave Jones should have been the good news story on a tragic St. Patrick’s Day.
The long-serving Belmont Police dispatcher was off-duty as he and his wife were heading to Donohue’s in Watertown to listen to Irish music on Friday morning, March 14. As the couple of two young boys were on Bigelow Avenue, Jones spotted a house on Merrifield Avenue with heavy smoke and fire coming from the building’s second floor.
“We were just traveling through. Just being in the right place at the right time,” Jones told the Belmontonian on Friday night as he began his shift at Belmont Police Headquarters.
Pulling over to the side of the road, Jones – whose father was a firefighter – jumped out and followed a Watertown Police officer who had just arrived into the burning structure.
Inside the house, Jones found an elderly resident who he brought out of the structure.
In his two-plus decades in public safety, “that’s the closest I have ever been to being a firefighter,” said Jones, who is a familiar figure at Belmont High football games as one of the members of the chain crew.
But should have been a story of selfless heroism by Jones and the Watertown police officer instead became on of the tragic death of Watertown firefighter Joseph Toscano who died of a heart attack battling the two-alarm blaze.
“Rather than me, what everyone has to remember, an old [man] lost a house and the loss of a firefighter,” said Jones, who last week celebrated his 21st year as a dispatcher, the same length of service as Toscano, a father of five from Randolph.
“It didn’t turn out to be the sort of story we all would want it to be,” said Jones.