Wilmington Fire Department asks for public’s assistance following firefighter deaths

 Firefighters work to extinguish the fire on Bird St. in Wilmington. (John Jankowski/for NewsWorks)

Firefighters work to extinguish the fire on Bird St. in Wilmington. (John Jankowski/for NewsWorks)

The Wilmington Fire Department is asking for the public’s help during their investigation into a fire that killed two firefighters over the weekend, and to support the families of the fallen. 

Lt. Christopher Leach, 41, and Senior Firefighter Jerry Fickes, 51, died in a Saturday row-home fire after the first floor collapsed into the basement.

Two other firefighters are in critical but stable condition at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.

The fire began in a home on Lake View Drive, where several people were trapped inside. Four children and one adult were taken to St. Francis Hospital for smoke inhalation.

Fire Chief Anthony Goode declined questions from reporters during a press conference Monday. He said the investigation still is ongoing, and asks the public to call in with any information.

The state’s fire marshal’s office is conducting the investigation, along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It hasn’t been determined whether the fire was arson or accidental.

Goode also is asking the public to make donations to the families of the fallen on the department’s official website to avoid scams.

“We will not be taken advantage of by others looking to gain from what we have lost,” he said. “We’re here to assist these families, we’re here to get our people through this.”

Meanwhile, friends and loved ones of two firemen are honoring their legacies.

“Firefighting was everything to them,” said Bruce Schweiger, president of the Local 1590 Wilmington Firefighter’s Association.

“They both grew up in the volunteer system. Chris came on as an absolute go-getter. Jerry loved firefighting, I’m pretty sure every book in his locker was about firefighting. These two will both go down as great firemen.”

Anyone with information on the fire are asked to call 302-576-3950. Donations can be made at wilmingtonfirefighters.org. The website also will have information on memorial and funeral services.

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