Senior Wilmington firefighter Ardy Hope will be laid to rest Saturday.

When given just hours to live, Ardythe Hope fought on for two more weeks.

Hope died Thursday after being hospitalized for 68 days at the Crozer Chester Medical Center following the Sept. 24, 2016 Canby Park rowhome blaze--which authorities have labeled as arson. She suffered burns over 70 percent of her body.

With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, family and friends were notified her condition was worsening. She refused to give up then, hanging on and fighting for another two weeks before finally succumbing to her injuries.

"The family and I, we want to thank Crozer Medical Center, especially the burn unit, for everything that they have done for Ardy Hope; they have been a true angel on our shoulders," said Goode.

Goode revealed Friday that Hope, a 23-year veteran, planned on retiring from the Wilmington Fire Department next month, in January of 2017.

Wilmington Chief Anthony Goode speaks about Ardythe Hope at a conference Friday. (Amy Cherry/WDEL).

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"Ardy met with me in September, prior to the Lakeview Road fire to plan for her retirement this January," he said. "She was leaving the department to become a nurse as she was in the final stages of completing her nursing degree."

A somber fire chief said Hope began her career with the odds stacked against her. She suffered from a brain tumor.

"That she fought through, and continued on in this job to receive several commendations, awards, and to prosper, to be able to manage all of those things, now to move on from this job and career to start another job and career as a nurse helping others in a different fashion," he said.

Hope is the the third line-of-duty death caused by a fire that also killed her firefighter brothers, Capt. Christopher Leach and Lt. Jerry Fickes. She's the first female in the department's history to die while on the job and the only second African American to die in the line-of-duty.

"She is an extremely well fighter, she is a wonderful mother and woman--you have to be to be a female firefighter in a male-dominated world. You have to be (tough) to be an African-American firefighter in a predominately Caucasian fire service," remarked Goode.

Goode said he and others received news of Hope's death while attending funeral services for Mayor Williams's son-in-law, Wilmington Police Lt. Jonathan Hall.

The sister-in-law to Wilmington Police Chief Bobby Cummings, Hope leaves behind three children, two of whom are still in high school.

"We love Ardy Hope, and we will always remember her, and maintain her honor," Goode said.

Goode also released funeral arrangements for the fallen firefighter.

There'll be a public viewing from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Chase Center, followed by a public funeral at 1 p.m.

A reception will be held after the service.

Goode added a third murder charge is expected to be lodged against Beatriz Fana-Ruiz, the daughter of the homeowner where the blaze occurred, who has already been charged with arson and murder in the deaths of Leach and Fickes.

Firefighter Brad Speakman was released from the hospital on November 3, 2016.


DJ McAneny and Frank Gerace contributed to this report.

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