NBC10: Smoke detectors saved family in Saturday fire in Canby Park


An overnight house fire in Wilmington's Canby Park section killed two firefighters and critically injured two others.

The fire was reported shortly before 3 a.m. Saturday, September 24, 2016, at 1927 Lakeview Road.

Wilmington Fire Chief Anthony Goode said the situation quickly got worse.

The floor collapse killed 41-year-old Lieutenant Christopher Leach, who was a 14-year veteran, and 51-year-old Senior Firefighter Jerry Fickes, who served for 13 years.

Firefighter Lieutenant Christopher Leach.

Lieutenant Christopher Leach

Salesianum School held a Saturday afternoon prayer service for Leach, a 1994 alumnus, and lieutenant at Ladder Co. 2.

Senior Firefighter Jerry Fickes.

Senior Firefighter Jerry Fickes

Fickes was at Squad 4 in Wilmington, and was a member and past assistant chief at Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Co. in Newark.

Terrance Tate and John Cawthray were hospitalized after the blaze but were eventually released. Firefighters Ardythe Hope and Brad Speakman remain hospitalized at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in critical, but stable, condition.

Vice President Joe Biden made unscheduled stops in Wilmington Saturday afternoon, going to the Canby Park fire scene and stopping at Wilmington's Emergency Operations Center.

The Bidens are friends with the family of Chris Leach, and the Vice President has long been a proponent of fire service--even having included Delaware volunteer fire companies in one of the Presidential Inauguration parades.

The Delaware Fire Marshal's Office and federal Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives were investigating the blaze, and will try to answer many questions, including why firefighters went into the home if the family living there had already gotten out.

Flags were seen flying at at half-mast at fire stations around Wilmington, which were adorned with black bunting.

black bunting on Talleyville fire trucks.

Black bunting on Talleyville fire trucks

This was the first fire-related firefighter deaths in Wilmington since 1998.

Funeral arrangements for both Leach and Fickes have not yet been announced.