Plaque dedicated to fallen firefighter stolen in North Philadelphia

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The brass plaque was dedicated to the memory and sacrifice of Philadelphia Firefighter James Magee, who perished fighting an oil cloth factory fire in the summer of 1898, nearly 118 years ago. (WPVI)

There was a plaque in the sidewalk at 2nd and Erie, but it has been stolen in recent days.

The brass plaque was dedicated to the memory and sacrifice of Philadelphia Firefighter James Magee, who perished fighting an oil cloth factory fire in the summer of 1898, nearly 118 years ago.

"In the process of him backing out of the building, what happened was the building collapsed and he was killed almost instantly," said Harry Magee, great-grandson.

Four generations of the Magee family have served on the Philadelphia Fire Department. In 2006, the plaque was dedicated and placed at the factory site at 2nd and Erie.

His family shared their thoughts on the theft of the $2,000 bronze plaque.

"It's not easy, but I think you have to look past it and see what you can do to stop that kind of stuff from happening," said Harry Magee.

"To me it's just disrespectful that somebody would rip it out of the ground, whether it was for drugs or not," said Ed Magee, great-grandson. "I mean I understand circumstances, but, still, it's a memorial plaque. It's like a slap in the face."

Jimmy Binns, a prominent lawyer and first responder devotee, started dedicating plaques in 2001.

He has generated enough funds and spent personal money to put down nearly 290 so far. The Philadelphia Firefighter's Union and Binn have raised money for a new plaque in honor of Magee.

"People gave their life preserving our city, and it's almost unthinkable that someone would dig it up out of the concrete, wasn't an easy task, to sell it for what a nickle bag," said Jimmy Binns.

It was from Engine 45 at 26th and York that James Magee went out the night of June 1898 to battle the factory fire. He never returned. His descendants would like the new memorial plaque placed here.

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