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Berlin Residents Honored for Bravery in Home Explosion

By Tom Marino | September 12, 2023
Last Updated: September 12, 2023

BOSTON — Four Berlin residents received the esteemed Madeline “Amy” Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery on Tuesday, on the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll recognized the individuals for their response to a house explosion in April.

On April 13, 2023, residents reported a propane odor emanating from the backyard of a single-family residence. A leaking propane tank was discovered and removed, but gas seeped into the home’s basement. Early the next morning, the gas ignited, destroying the house, damaging nearby properties, and torching two vehicles.

Brian and Dylan Clemmer, Bobby Wheeler, Jonathan Golas, and Berlin Police Officer Molly Plante, took action to rescue a woman trapped beneath the rubble moments before a secondary explosion. The second blast killed a 79-year-old the residence.

The award memorializes Madeline “Amy” Sweeney, an American Airlines flight attendant and Massachusetts resident, killed aboard Flight 11 during the 9/11 attacks. Sweeney’s last moments were spent conveying vital details about the hijackers to ground crews.

The April fire drew response teams from 10 communities. Joint investigations confirmed the blast was accidental, underscoring the hazards of incorrect fuel storage and equipment neglect.

The award recipients, nominated by Berlin’s fire and police chiefs, were selected by the Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery Selection Committee, led by Lt. Governor Driscoll.

Image courtesy of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security

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