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January 21, 2016Sturbridge, MA, United StatesOperational

Off-duty Boston ICE personnel aid rescues from burning motel

The aftermath of the January 10, 2016 Publick House Motel fire (from the front of the building) in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.

STURBRIDGE, Mass. — Several U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel from ICE’s Boston office assisted local emergency responders at an overnight motel fire in Western Massachusetts, where they were staying while attending a fellow special agent’s wedding.

“The average person is taught to run from danger, to get yourself and your family to safety,” said Special Agent in Charge Matthew Etre, of HSI Boston. “True heroes are those unique few who run toward danger to help. I can think of no better measure for someone in law enforcement, than a person who maintains that standard in everyday life.  Going back into a burning building to save people is one of the most selfless things I can think of someone doing. SA Lundt, AFOD Sullivan and TEO Adamson are heroes and I’m incredibly proud of their efforts, and those of the local emergency response teams that assisted during this crisis.”

“It’s with an extraordinary sense of pride and gratitude that I’m reminded of the unique character of the ICE personnel that make up the Boston Field Office,” said Field Office Director Sean Gallagher of ERO Boston. “AFOD Sullivan, SA Lundt, TEO Adamson and their families showed the true nature of selfless service when they put themselves at risk to help others. I feel both grateful and incredibly lucky to have people like this working for ICE in Boston.”

On Sunday January 10, wedding goers awoke between 3 and 4 AM EDT, at the multi-structure, Publick House Motel in Sturbridge, to smoke filling their rooms and the sounds of sirens approaching. One guest reported waking from a dream in which she thought a room heater was malfunctioning.

ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) technical enforcement officer Bill Adamson, and his wife Christy, awoke to the sounds of sirens. Adamson immediately went outside to investigate when he ran into HSI special agent Brendan Lundt and discovered the neighboring structure Lundt was staying at was on fire.

While this happened, Assistant Field Officer Director George Sullivan, of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in Boston, had similarly been woken to find the room he and his wife shared filled with black smoke. After evacuating his family out of the room he raced to help get other guests to safety. Other wedding guests were also fleeing the area, to the sounds of explosions as nearby cars became engulfed in flames and gas tanks ignited.

Lundt, who had already evacuated his family, and Sullivan heard screams coming from the rear of the structure so they immediately went to investigate and found several people trapped on upper floor balconies. They sent by-standers out to meet the fire department while Sullivan climbed up three floors, using only the railings of the balconies, to get to the people trapped until fire fighters could bring a ladder. Lundt assisted Sullivan from the ground while Adamson assisted local fire fighters. Sullivan made the outdoor climb three times, rescuing a total of four people, including three wedding guests who were trapped by flames at their door. These guests said they would have either died or attempted jumping from the third floor, risking serious injury, if it weren’t for Sullivan leading them to safety.

The ICE personnel also helped local responders with other duties, pitching in to help evacuate guests, standing by and calming those being treated by emergency responders, and even helping the local volunteer fire department with moving equipment and holding ladders for fire fighters. Remarkably, no one was injured during the entire incident.

These selfless, courageous acts directly contributed to the safe evacuation of all affected guests. 

Updated: 02/07/2022