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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Natural Disaster

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Chicago Firefighter Tragedy Update

December 22, 2010 - 4:21 PM | by: Mike Tobin

In cold weather, Chicago Firefighters try to search every abandoned building that catches fire, because they assume homeless people will climb inside trying to survive the brutal Chicago winters. “We take no building as being vacant. We do it cautiously, but we search every one,” Said Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff.  Today, the building that burned on the south side had an entrance pried open in the back.  The fire had been contained to just a small part of the building. “The building according to the Chief Officer looked like it was in no danger of collapse” said Hoff.

However, just a short time after 7 am, when firefighters began their search, the roof came down. Soon, the men and women who spend their careers saving others were digging through piles of bricks to rescue their own. 14 were injured, 6 severely, 2 firefighters lost their lives. As the investigation into why begins, fire crews are left to speculate that the collapse was caused by heavy snow on the roof or just the age of the building.

Lt. Edward Stringer is one of the two who died. His shift was ending at 7 am. His relief had offered to take over his duties. But we’re told Stringer opted to go inside.  The other firefighter who lost his life is Cory Ankum. His wife is a personal Secretary of the outgoing Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. “I knew Cory Ankum and his family and I share in their loss today,” Daley wrote in a release. Ankum leaves behind 3 children.

In painful irony, this tragedy occurs on the 100th anniversary of the Chicago Fire Department’s greatest loss ever.  It was a fire in the infamous Stockyards. 21 firefighters were killed along with 3 civilians. It was the greatest single loss of firemen until the attacks of September 11. The loss of life in the Stockyards fire was also caused by a collapse.

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