Filed under: History, roots of Willohroots
“(3/15/2008) Fifteen years ago this date, two local firefighters lost their lives battling a fire in Pittston City. Today, the community took time to remember our fallen comrades by attending a special Mass before proceeding to the former Water Street Bridge in Pittston City. The bridge would be the focus of events, as it was officially renamed the “Firefighters Memorial Bridge” in honor of John Lombardo and Leonard Insalaco who lost their lives on that fateful day.
Many area departments, including Station 112 participated in the events today. It was our special way of honoring all those who came before us and made the supreme sacrifice.”
“May they never be forgotten”
Photo and quote above from Avoca Fire Dept’s, great site http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.avocafire.net/img/incidents/P015.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.avocafire.net/inciden
Another anniversary coming up. It really doesn’t seem so long ago. As I remember the call came in late in the evening during a serious snow storm. Multiple alarm fire Main St. Pittston. My rural company, where I served as Chief was not called, but at the time I was a member of West Pittston Hose Co. No.1 , a volunteer outfit in the neighboring town. I knew I would have a delayed response, but I thought I might be of some help on the ladder truck. I did not run my red light and siren while responding and would not have needed to, as the streets were deserted.
Route 92 pointed right at the fire, and I could see the smoke “pushing” from the building before I crossed the bridge into Pittston City. As soon as I got parked, Frankie Roman, City Chief at the time, told me to shut the gas main off in the rear of the building and to look for two firemen making their way out the back. Len Insalaco and John Lombardo had gone in the front on Main St, and the floor had collapsed. Frankie asked me to vent the roof ASAP. I never got off the aerial ladder onto the roof. The rubber roof of the hundred year old building was bubbling, and there was no way I would put myself or anyone else on it. We were helpless. We went into “surround and drown” mode. Lenny and John were gone.
There were two signs of love on the rise of the next day. One was Scranton City firemen. Without being called, on their own time, a crew came down to recover the bodies of our brothers. The other was the sign of the cross. On the neighboring building, a cross of ice had formed thirty feet high, dead center over the scene. There was probably some scientific explanation for this, maybe, but those of us who believed saw the cross in our time of loss. Scientific explanation or not, thank you Jesus.
I did not know John well, I still miss Lenny. Our talks covered the full range of firehouse conversation: fires, women, cars, God. I speak about God with more purpose and urgency these days. You never know which conversation will be your last.
Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
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