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19 Arizona Firefighters Brings Back Memories of Gloucester City Tragedy

When I think about those 19 brave firefighters that lost their lives on the job in Arizona, I’m reminded of all the great work our firefighters here in New Jersey and across the country do every day. I come from a family of firefighters going back to when they were called firemen.

Yarnell 19 Brings back memories to firefighters in NJ
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

I’m also reminded of one the biggest tragedies to hit New Jersey which came on July 4th  2002 in Gloucester City when Mount Ephraim Fire Chief Jim Sylvester, Mt Ephraim Deputy Chief John West, and Gloucester City firefighter Thomas G Stuart the  3rd lost their lives trying to save three young sisters 5 year old Alexandra, and three year old twins Claudia, and Coletta Slack, who also died in the 3 story multi-family house.

I remember my father who was 80 at the time and living with us, breaking down and crying at the dinner table over these people he never knew but felt the connection that one firefighter feels for another.

I remember the outpouring of love mixed with grief and sorrow as we raised money in comedy benefit that was more like a post funeral repast.

I was told since it was July and everyone was on vacation, not to expect too much. What I got was a packed house, 12 comedians performing for free, dozens of prizes donated and thousands of dollars raised for the FMBA Association.

This Arizona blaze was the deadliest day for US firefighters since Sept 11 2001. We honor the memory of these firefighters as well as all who run into buildings that we run out of.  If you’d like to honor a firefighter, please leave their name below.

If you would like to help out the families of the 19 heroic Arizona firefighters, click the link to donate

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