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AFTER THE ATTACK

Heroic Firefighter Is Alive--and Still on the Job

Rescue: Photo of Mike Kehoe on scene reached millions. He narrowly escaped, and now looks for those who didn't.

September 22, 2001|DAVID ZUCCHINO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Kehoe seems overwhelmed by the entire ordeal. He is not particularly comfortable talking about himself and worries that the photo is deflecting attention from missing firefighters and the effort to find them.

"He doesn't want any attention," said his boss, Fire Lt. Jimmy Rallis. "He's beat. He needs time to get things together."

Kehoe's good friend, fellow Engine 28 firefighter Kevin Murray--who also survived the north tower collapse--said Kehoe knows that a photograph doesn't make anybody a hero. "He says the guys under the rubble are the heroes," Murray said.

But the photo is inescapable. "Millions of people must have seen that picture, it seems like, from all the phone calls and people coming by here," Murray said.

At the firehouse, the only photos are of Engine 28's missing firefighters. Also hung on a firehouse wall is a bent manila folder, a homemade receptacle for contributions to a fund for families of missing and dead firefighters.

"Do me a favor," Kehoe said to a reporter. "Put the fund in the newspaper."

It is difficult to tell a man whose photo has been around the world that the Uniformed Firefighters Assn. Widows and Children's Fund at 204 E. 23rd St., New York, N.Y., 10010, won't get into print.

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