KANSAS CITY, MO — His voice breaking with grief, the Kansas City, Missouri, fire chief gave more details Tuesday morning after an apartment fire took the lives of two firefighters.
Larry J. Leggio and John V. Mesh died after part of an apartment building collapsed Monday night as crews were pulling back from the unstable fiery blaze, said fire Chief Paul Berardi.
Leggio and Mesh died at the scene, the fire department said Monday, and two firefighters were taken to the hospital. Both are expected to recover, Berardi said.
Berardi said firefighters rescued two people from the second floor of the building.
“The outpouring of condolences has been amazing,” said an emotional Berardi, who took long pauses to collect himself as he spoke. “The compassion of the community has been amazing.”
He said he was proud of the professionalism the rest of the firefighters displayed at a time of tremendous sadness and shock. Many were at the hospital through the night, he said. Some are probably still there.
“It’s difficult when you live with somebody for 24 hours a day, and you’re laughing and joking one minute and then something like this happens in the line of duty,” Berardi told CNN affiliate KCTV-TV. “What’s good for their families to remember is that they did not die in vain.”