Family, friends mourn fallen firefighters

December 22, 2010 9:39:53 PM PST
Family members and friends are mourning two firefighters killed Wednesday morning on the city's South Side. The firefighters, Corey Ankum and Edward Stringer, died when portions of a building collapsed on top of them.

It is the first time multiple Chicago firefighters have died in the line of duty since 1998.

The fire started just before 7 a.m. in the 1700-block of E. 75th street.

Edward Stringer worked for Engine 63 and began with the dept in 1998. He was a divorced father of two and known in his Southwest Side neighborhood as someone who always helped all his neighbors.

The other fallen firefighter was Corey Ankum, who worked for Engine 72. Dozens of Chicago firefighters lined the Christ Hospital emergency room driveway as the Ankum's body was brought out to be taken to the morgue.

"Great kid, always wanted to listen, always wanted to learn, did everything right," said Chicago Fire Department Captain Stan Pavilonas, who worked with Ankum. "It's just a tragic loss."

Purple bunting hung from both company firehouses Wednesday night to mourn the loss of the firefighters.

"It's a loss. That's all I can say," said Ankum's half brother Gerald Glover.

Ankum worked with Glover at the firehouse at 79th in south Chicago. Ankum, 34, worked the third shift. The father of three was known as an excellent cook and a jokester with an infectious laugh.

"He helped people that he don't really know... if you needed some help getting to the hospital, older people on his block, he helped out, you know, watching out for their houses while they go to work - all kinds of stuff," said Glover. "There was nothing that you could... ask for him to do that that he wouldn't do"

According to Glover, Ankum worked as a Chicago police officer for three years before switching to the fire department a little more than a year ago.

Glover said that Ankum told him he was switching from the police department to the fire department because he felt that people did not respect police any more.

Ankum and 12-year department veteran Stringer were killed when a roof and a wall collapsed while they were fighting a fire in an abandoned building.

Stringer's family received condolences at his home all day Wednesday. A blow-up Santa Claus riding a Harley highlighted his love for motorcycles. He brought his bike to the Lakefront campground every year.

"He would ride his motorcycle out, go for rides out in the country, that type of thing," said friend Monica Murdaugh.

Neighbors say the neatly-shoveled sidewalks in his neighborhood are his handiwork. They say that on Tuesday, he was out clearing not only his, but theirs as well.

"We lost a hero - a man who was not only a good firefighter, he was a great neighbor - a great Chicagoan," said neighbor Kim Speck.

Maurice Matthews' brother was injured trying to save Ankum.

"To be there, knowing that you can't help your comrade and that you had to leave him is what he'staking hard now, because he was the last guy with him," said Matthews.

He told ABC7 that his brother has been released from Christ Hospital. He is now receiving counseling from the Fire Department.

The Mayor's Office as well as the Fire Department is personally feeling Ankum's loss. Ankum's wife worked for Mayor Daley.

Ankum leaves behind a wife and three children.

Funeral arrangements for both had yet to be announced Wednesday night.


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