Community gathers to pay respects to fallen Wilmington firefighter

WILMINGTON, Del. (WPVI) -- Ranks of somber first responders came to pay their respects Thursday to the family of Lt. Jerry Fickes, who was remembered as someone who served others in many ways.

"He always put everybody first. He was the first one in the neighborhood to be out with his snow blower helping everybody out," said Mary Waegele, neighbor.

Fickes and Capt. Christopher Leach were killed in a rowhouse blaze Saturday morning.

On Thursday, investigators said the fire was intentionally set.

"I just heard that in line. I hadn't heard it before. That's just devastating," said Lynn Fabian of Newark.

Charged is 27-year-old Beatriz Fana-Ruiz, a resident of the house who allegedly confessed she started the fire in anger and then fled.

Those at the visitation said the arson finding turns a tragedy into a senseless tragedy.

"Its makes it doubly difficult. These families are senselessly hurt," said Jud Orescan.

"To come here and pay your respects like this - it's senseless," said Ryan Kachmar of Newark.

"We go in there and risk our lives every day, and for someone to intentionally set a fire is horrible," said Lt. Ronald Philip of Bensalem.

Gena Cawthray's father was a firefighter. Her husband is also, and was injured in Saturday's fire.

She struggled for the right words when we spoke with her on Thursday.

"I probably can't even say on TV what I want to say about that," said Cawthray.
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