COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — First responders from around the country filled roadways and church seats amid the mournful sound of bagpipes as family and friends gathered Wednesday to pay tribute to two Central Texas firefighters killed in a blaze.
Eulogists remembered Bryan Fire Lt. Gregory Pickard, 54, and Lt. Eric Wallace, 36, for their on-the-job dedication as well as their humor and kindness.
The Eagle of Bryan-College Station reported (http://bit.ly/155GuUg) that the memorial started with a procession of more than 150 fire trucks from around the state that stretched nearly three miles. The four-hour memorial was held at Central Baptist Church in College Station.
"We have lost two devoted members of our organization," said Bryan fire Chief Randy McGregor, flanked by large photographs of each fallen firefighter on the church stage. "The impact these men had will go on for years in our organization. These men had such an impact on every one of our persons sitting out here, and I know that they will carry on the legacies of everything they brought to us."
Pickard and Wallace died in the blaze that broke out Friday night at an unoccupied Knights of Columbus Hall in Bryan, about 100 miles northwest of Houston. Investigators said the fire was caused by the failure of an electrical cord in the hall's kitchen.
McGregor remembered both firefighters as having a "great sense of humor."
"And that's probably one of the things we liked about them both," McGregor said.
At the end of the service, the families of the two firefighters were presented with medals of honor from the International Association of Fire Fighters.
Wallace's funeral was scheduled for Thursday in Bryan, while services for Pickard will be held Friday in College Station.
Two firefighters that were injured in the blaze — Ricky Mantey Jr., 30, and Mitchel Moran, 21 — were in serious but stable condition Wednesday at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
McGregor said Tuesday that Mantey and Moran have improved and are able to walk short distances.
Information from: The Eagle, http://www.theeagle.com