Lakeview Rd memorial groundbreaking

The deaths of three Wilmington firefighters in September, 2016, left a void in the lives of family, friends, and fellow firefighters.

The effort to close a physical gap left by the fire recently took a major step forward.

A groundbreaking was held on Lakeview Road in Canby Park for what will become a memorial in honor of Chris Leach, Jerry Fickes, and Ardy Hope.

Wilmington firefighter Jeffrey Schaal said getting a memorial constructed in the middle of the row of homes on Lakeview has been a goal for many for several years.

"We didn't want anyone to ever build on that property again because to us it's sacred ground," said Schaal. "By us putting that memorial there, it ensures that nobody will ever build there again, and that's important to us."

The property was actually purchased by someone after the fire, but Schaal said when that person learned the firefighters were trying to obtain it, it was sold to them for one dollar.

Schaal said individuals, businesses, and organizations joined with Firefighter's Union Local 1590, which had started a benevolent fund, in an effort to raise money for the memorial.

Engraved bricks were available for purchase, and E.P. Henry, a company that provides 'Heroscaping,' along with Angerstein's in Elsmere, donated all of the material needed for the project.

Schaal said families of the fallen firefighters and neighbors on Lakeview, are on-board with the memorial, and the benevolent fund is still taking donations.

The park will have three granite benches, one for each firefighter, and Schaal is hopeful those who visit the site will find some peace and solace.

"Our goal is for people to be able to go there, and have a cup of coffee," said Schaal, "sit there and just enjoy the memorial so to speak. We're trying to get past the sad place.

"Just a place where someone can go and say hello to one of our friends that we're missing."

TrafficWatch & News Reporter for WDEL/WSTW 1989 - 1993 and back again for Round Two starting in February, 2015 after spending a decade in Chicago and another six years in Boston.