Vigil for fallen York City firefighters healing for brotherhood
Days after York City firefighters Ivan Flanscha and Zachary Anthony died as a result of a building collapse, the community gathered in solidarity.
The Southern Pennsylvania Incident Network organized a memorial vigil Saturday, March 24, estimating about 200 in attendance — many from the unshakable brotherhood of firefighters that stretches far beyond the city.
"It's kind of unreal because you hear it happen throughout the country," said Shane Welsh of fallen firefighters in the line of duty, "but it finally hit close to home."
Welsh came with five of his firefighter brothers from the Wrightsville Fire & Rescue Co.
Flanscha and Anthony were rushed to York Hospital on Thursday afternoon after a wall collapsed while they were at the former Weaver Piano & Organ Co. building at 127 N. Broad St., where a fire had broken out nearly 24 hours earlier, and firefighters continued to put out hot spots. Both died at the hospital that day.
Assistant Chief Greg Altland and Firefighter Erik Swanson also were injured at the scene. They remained hospitalized Saturday.
Vigil: The crowd held candles as they made a path for family and friends of Flanscha and Anthony to process to the front of the Goode School, at 251 N. Broad St. in York City.
Everyone shared reverent silence as "Amazing Grace" rang out over the grounds.
York City Deputy Fire Chief Chad Deardorff said about 11 family members and friends from the two firefighters came up to the front, including Flanscha's widow and two of his children as well as Anthony's widow.
As the vigil came to a close, a line of people came forward to hug Deardorff and the family of the fallen.
Many signed poster boards — each with a picture of one of the fallen firefighters — to write messages and pay their respects.
The brotherhood: Shrinestown Community Fire Co. firefighter Corey Daugherty, who came with about 10 of his brother firefighters, called the vigil "very emotional."
He said though he didn't know Flanscha and Anthony personally, he had been in fires with them.
"Talk is the biggest thing," he said of the healing process — getting together with the brotherhood and remembering the good times.
New Bridgeville Memorial Fire Co. Assistant Chief Daryl Miller echoed his thoughts.
"Everyone sticks together," said Mackenzie Moody, who runs with EMS for West Manchester Township Fire Department. "If one goes down, we all go down."
A Liberty Fire Co. firefighter from North York who was there said he was one of the ones on first call when the fire started Wednesday, March 21.
And at least one worker from Washington and Dowling Contractors, Joe Jackson, who was working on the Weaver Piano & Organ Co. building as a part of the planned Weaver Point Lofts apartment development, came to pay his respects.
Jackson said he was working on the building's elevator a day before the fire.
"I was shocked," he said of the fire.
Support: "I'd just like to thank the whole community for your support," Deardorff said. "Seeing so many here tonight from our city — our first responder friends — this support is what we need."
Ted Legore, a third-generation firefighter with Porters Fire Co. in Heidelberg Township, said that at one point he had decided not to serve as a firefighter, but he's glad he got involved again. He came to the vigil Saturday night for his firefighting brothers.
"There's a common bond amongst the brotherhood of firefighters," he said, explaining that they come in as strangers, but as they work together they become friends. "It's a beautiful thing."