Somerville, Mass. firefighter Earl Johnson places flowers at a makeshift memorial honoring firefighters Lt. Edward J. Walsh and Michael R. Kennedy who died Wednesday fighting a Boston fire. (Steven Senne / AP)

On Wednesday, a nine-alarm fire that swept through an apartment building cost two Boston firefighters their lives and Boston athletes, as they did during the Marathon bombings last year, paused to remember just who the city’s heroes are.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had a front-row seat for the blaze, his Back Bay home just a few doors from where the fire occurred. He admitted Wednesday night in a Facebook post and again Thursday in a radio interview that he isn’t in the same league as the firefighters.

“I looked out of the front of our house and could see the flames, and then kind of went back to my room, and then went back about two minutes later and just saw it growing, and at that point I had gone to the back part of my house and from my deck I could see kind of what they were up against,” Brady said on WEEI’s “Dennis & Callahan” show. “At that point, all the fire engines were coming down the street. I was watching for obviously a long time, and then at one point I saw a pretty big explosion of flames and a lot of the firemen were coming out of the building, and that’s when I really got nervous.”

Brady, who took his wife, Gisele Bundchen, and their children to a friend’s house nearby as the fire grew, said they were never in jeopardy on “one of the scarier days” he’s had since living in Back Bay.

“We as athletes think that we’re heroes, but when you witness firsthand what I saw yesterday, you realize who the real heroes are in this world,” he said. “It’s the people that work hard to protect our lives and protect our safety and our freedoms in America — certainly the firefighters and Boston Police and the state troopers. I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Lt. Edward J. Walsh and Michael R. Kennedy died fighting the blaze in the four-story brownstone, a tragedy that resonated with Red Sox players in Fort Myers, Fla.