Today marks the two year anniversary of the Canby Park rowhome fire that took the lives of three Wilmington Firefighters and injured four others.
Shortly before 3:00 am on September 24, 2016, Firefighters responded to the 1900 block of Lakeview Road in the Canby Park area of Wilmington.
On that Saturday morning Lt. Christopher Leach, 41 and a 14-year, rushed into the home to save people as he had done on so many other occasions. Once inside he became trapped in the basement. Senior Firefighter Jerry Fickes, 51 and a 13-year veteran, along with several other firefighters went in to save Leach, only to have the first floor collapsed on them, trapping them as well.
When the floor collapsed both Leach and Fickes were mortally wounded, it also left Firefighters Ardy Hope, 48 and a 23-year veteran, and Brad Speakman with serious burns. Hope and Speakman, badly injured, were rushed to Crozer Burn Center in Chester, PA., where Hope sadly succumbed to her injuries after a long hard-fought battle.
Brad Speakman spent six weeks at Crozer recovering from his burn injuries, before undergoing months of physical rehabilitation. Speakman was able to return to the department earlier this month.
Several days after the fire authorities ruled the blaze an arson and arrested a woman who lived in the home. The woman was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, first-degree arson, assault charges and seven counts of reckless endangerment. She is currently in jail awaiting trial.
All three of the fallen firefighters were posthumously promoted Christopher Leach reaching the rank of Captain , Jerry Fickes, Lieutenant and Ardy Hope becoming the first African American female Officer in the Wilmington Fire Department with the rank of Lieutenant.
Image Credits: Wilmington Fire Department Facebook