Third firefighter to die from arson had planned to retire [video]

Wilmington Fire Chief Anthony Goode talks about the death of Ardythe Hope

Wilmington Fire Chief Anthony Goode talks about the death of Ardythe Hope

Senior Wilmington firefighter Ardythe Hope was planning to retire in January to become a nurse. She died Thursday from injuries suffered in a September fire.

Ardythe Hope is the third firefighter to die following the September 24 fire in the Canby Park section of Wilmington. She’s the first female firefighter to die in the line of duty.

“We love Ardy Hope, and we will always remember her and maintain her honor,” said Wilmington Fire Chief Anthony Goode. “While she maybe in a better place, and she may be smiling down upon us, ready to watch over us, we will definitely always miss her.”

Goode said he met with Hope in September before that fateful day. During that meeting, Hope detailed her plans to retire from the department to become a nurse. She was on the verge of completing her nursing degree.

After being injured in the fire, the single mother of three was taken in critical condition to Crozer Chester Medical Center where she stayed for nearly 70 days. In November, her family and firefighter colleagues rushed to the hospital after being told she was near death, but Hope held on for another two weeks.

Goode said Hope has been a fighter ever since starting her career at the WFD in 1993. “She had a brain tumor that she fought through and continued on this job to receive several commendations, awards and to prosper,” Goode said.

Goode said he’s also been in contact with Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn’s office as well as the Wilmington Fire Marshal about adding another murder charge against the woman accused of starting the fire. Just days after the fire, 27-year-old Beatriz Fana-Ruiz was charged with murder, four counts of assault, arson and reckless endangering. Fana-Ruiz is the daughter of the home’s owner.

Lt. Christopher Leach and Senior Firefighter Jerry Fickes were also killed as they battled the September fire. The floor of the home collapsed, trapping firefighters inside the burning building.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.