At the Houston firefighter’s union hall the carefully crafted memorial ribbons number more than 10,000. It is a foreshadowing measure of homage to come.“I’m crying every morning when I read the newspaper. It’s just awful,” said Anita Cook, a firefighter’s mother.
For those whose fingers gently weave the symbols of grief there is limited relief from the anguish of losing four firefighters and the real fear that a fifth could follow.
“Being a wife and they leave every day and you pray that they come home safe. Other wives understand,” said Shantelle Wichnezsk, an HFD wife.
At hard hit Station 51 heartfelt gestures of sadness, honor and gratitude have multiplied on the front lawn.
There and at nearly all Houston Fire Department locations 700 commissioned firefighters from across Texas will man the posts so that “Houston’s Bravest” can mourn the sister and brother officers lost.
“We go and do the same to pay it back. It’s paying forward the tradition. It means so much emotionally to the crews that they can go and pay their final respects,” said HFD Capt. Scott Wilkey.
At the fire scene investigators offered the public few new answers. The fire, they say, appears to have emerged from the Southwest Inn’s kitchen into the attic. Electrical and structural engineers were looking for clues explaining a roof collapse so rapid multiple lives were lost.
Investigators are asking the public for video taken during the early stages of the blaze.
At Local 341 firefighters from across the land steadily trickled in. On Wednesday at Reliant Stadium the outpouring of sorrow, loyalty and kinship promises to be profound.
“We are expecting about 5000 from across the nation. It’s very heartwarming, it’s very humbling to have the love and support from across the nation,” said Wilkey.