A longtime Mount Vernon firefighter died early Thursday after apparently suffering a heart attack at the scene of a house fire.
Fire Commissioner Noah Lighty identified the firefighter as 54-year-old Kevin Townes, a 25-year member of the department.
Townes was responding to a blaze at 124 Lorraine Ave. at about 4 a.m., and had just put on his gear when he collapsed, officials said.
Townes had a wife and three children, and also worked as Mount Vernon's fire inspector.
Donato Christiano, a firefighter at the Oak Street house where Townes worked, described him as "tough on the outside, but real sweet on the inside."
"He was a big teddy bear," said Mayor Clinton Young.