Wilmington, Del. (WTXF) - A cloud of sadness hangs over the Wilmington Fire Department for the third time in two months. Thursday evening Senior Firefighter Ardythe Hope died of injuries she suffered battling a fire on September 24th that was ruled arson. She'd been in the hospital ever since with burns over 70 percent of her body.
"That's an absolute shame," said resident James Crudele. As word of Senior Firefighter Hope’s death spread around the city, residents recalled the day the fire happened at a home on Lakeview Road in Canby Park. Lieutenant Christopher Leach and Senior Firefighter Jerry Fickes died in the fire. Firefighter Brad Speakman was hurt but has since been released from the hospital.
"The way the community rallied around those firefighters and obviously what they had lost to protect and keep us safe," said Crudele.
Wilmington Fire Chief Anthony Goode was too shaken up to talk after leaving the hospital where Senior Firefighter Hope died. He gave us this statement over the phone:
“I along with the Wilmington Fire Department and City of Wilmington mourn the loss of our Senior Firefighter Ardythe Hope. Ardy is a 23-year veteran of the Wilmington Fire Department.
As a female African American firefighter she has gone through a lot of adversity and will remain one of our best firefighters. Ardy is a single mother of three children. We want to give our condolences to the entire family. We will be standing and sticking by the family and assisting with all their needs. Keep us in your prayers as we deal with this difficult time.
Ardy succumbed to injuries she suffered in the September 24th arson fire on Lakeview Road. She is the third line of duty death resulting from that fire.”
Hope was planning to retire from the department and serve the public in another form, becoming a nurse. She is the first female firefighter to die in the line of duty in the Wilmington police department.
A full honors funeral is being planned for Hope. A public viewing will begin at 10:00 on Saturday December 10, 2016 and end at 12:00. A public funeral/memorial will commence at 1:00 PM. The family will be having a reception at the Chase Center immediately following the service.