PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Hundreds gathered for a viewing to pay their respects to Philadelphia Fire Lieutenant Matthew LeTourneau who was killed in the line of duty last weekend.
"I was actually watching your news at 6 p.m.on Saturday and all I had to do was see his name on the memorial plaque and I lost it," said Michael Carney. He got emotional heading into the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul for a viewing this evening. He remembers the moment he learned his friend and fellow firefighter Lieutenant Matthew LeTourneau died working a fire over the weekend.
He shared memories of LeTourneau.
"I walked into the firefighter survival class and saw Matt there as an instructor and I was incredibly proud to see somebody that I knew when he was young go that far and hear how good he was doing," said Carney who says he was Deputy Chief of Folcroft Fire Department until he was hurt last summer.
Lieutenant LeTourneau had 11 years with the Philadelphia Fire Department. He was 42 years old.
Saturday he responded to a house fire on Colorado Street in North Philadelphia and became trapped inside.
"He influenced so many lives with what he did just by the example he set. He mentored younger firefighters and even older firefighters like myself," said Carney.
Among the large number that turned out to the pay their respects is former Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers.
"I swore Matt in years ago and you remember certain people and he had one of those spirits that exuded help and hope," said Ayers who also says he was able to speak with the family during the viewing.
"We loved Matt as much as he loved us and we're trying to share the loss with them but we know they are hurting and I told them he did what he loved. And we would be there for them," he said.
As firefighters and other emergency responders stood outside the Basilica Carney said it's clear they will all continue to risk their lives to save lives.
“Even though we understand the inherent dangers we can have a tendency to be like kids, put me in coach, we want to go do the job,” said Carney.
A procession for Lieutenant LeTourneau will head from the fire house at 21st and Market to the Cathedral at 8:15 Friday morning. Another viewing is tomorrow at 9 a.m. followed by his funeral mass at 11.
City officials say Lt. LeTourneau was pinned under debris inside a home on the 2200 block of North Colorado Street when it collapsed Saturday morning. He was rescued by fellow firefighters and taken to the hospital. The 11-year-veteran was pronounced dead a short time later.
A 1993 graduate of Cardinal O’Hara High School, Lt. LeTourneau held an associate’s degree in fire science from Delaware County Community College. He lived in Springfield and is survived by his mother, other relatives and friends.
Governor Tom Wolf ordered flags flown at half-staff in honor of the fallen lieutenant, which includes flags on the Capitol complex and at all Commonwealth buildings in Philadelphia. The order starts Tuesday at sunrise and continues through sunset Saturday.
Delgera Lane, 61, was identified as the second victim in the fire on Wednesday.
Expect delays on area roadways due to the procession Friday morning.
The last Philadelphia firefighter killed in action was Lieutenant Joyce Craig, who was fatally injured in December 2014 while battling a wind-whipped house fire.