WILMINGTON (WTXF) - “She's very upset about them. She's praying for their families."
How do you heal, knowing heroes died to save your family?
Thoughts running through Missy Napier’s head as she breaks down outside what's left of her Wilmington home Saturday morning.
She's grateful her children and grandchildren survived the fire that erupted as they slept.
She's heartbroken two of the firefighters who rushed to save them did not.
"The smoke was so hot. Not the fire but the smoke was burning your face."
It was just before 3 a.m. when crews arrived to Lakeview Road--finding this row house billowing smoke, flames shooting out the back.
Firefighters enter the home--but the floor suddenly caves in beneath their feet.
15 minutes after the first crews arrived, a mayday is called.
Chief Anthony Goode with the Wilmington Fire Department said, "Floor fell in. Four firefighters fell down into the collapse of the floor. Two of those firefighters have passed away."
Fire chief Anthony Goode says several firefighters became trapped in the rubble of the collapse. Immediately their colleagues begin a fierce search and rescue effort. One firefighter dies inside the home.
An ambulance escorted by first responders rushes another away from the scene.
Later in the morning Chief Goode confirmed to FOX 29 a second firefighter succumbed to his injuries.
"All of our family is hurting significantly. The entire city is hurting significantly. I know I am."
The chief identified the fallen as 41-year-old Lt. Christopher Leach and 51-year-old Jerry Fickes--both veteran firefighters with the department. Both fathers and husbands. Two other firefighters suffered critical burns, and another 2 had less serious injuries.
"It's breaking her heart to know they passed away in her house."
As word spreads,Wilmington firefighters towing broken hearts and helmets in hand gathering at the scene looking on in silence as a colleague climbs his ladder truck to hang the American flag.
Neighbors who woke up to fire grateful to the career heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice.
"Heroes. Absolute heroes. And I'm sad to hear any of them lost their life last night."
The state fire marshal and ATF are investigating the circumstances of the fire.