Philly to honor fallen firefighter at public viewings in Cathedral

Philadelphians are coming together to honor a local firefighter who lost his life while fighting a blaze that also killed one civilian.

Lt. Matthew LeTourneau, 42, of Engine 45/Platoon A, will be laid to rest Friday. Before the funeral, public viewings were expected to be held at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul so citizens could pay their respects to the firefighter who died inside a Philly rowhouse, fighting a blaze.

The two-alarm fire that LeTourneau died fighting lit up a North Philly rowhouse on the 2200 block of North Colorado Street around 8:51 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 6.

It was reportedly LeTourneau’s last scheduled shift with Engine 45 before a scheduled shift change, according to WHYY.

But single-digit, freezing temps that morning didn’t make fighting the fire any easier, even though some 100 firefighters responded to the scene.

LeTourneau died after being pinned under debris that fell due to an interior structural collapse, the Fire Department said. It reportedly took a half-hour to unpin him. He was pronounced dead around 11 a.m. at Temple University Hospital.

One other male, who has not been publicly identified but was reportedly an occupant of the house, also died in the blaze.

Mayor Kenney ordered all city of Philadelphia flags hung at half-mast for the 30 days following LeTourneau’s death.

“I am grateful for his outstanding service to our city during his 11-year career,” Kenney said in a statement. “Lt. LeTourneau sacrificed his life trying to save others. Our firefighters demonstrate tremendous acts of heroism every single day.”

A resident of Springfield in Delco and 11-year veteran of the fire department, LeTourneau graduatedCardinal O’Hara High School in 1993 and got an associate’s degree in fire science at Delaware County Community College.

“He had previously served at Engine 43 and Engine 57, and was promoted to lieutenant in 2015,” the Fire Department said in an announcement of his death. “He received a unit citation in 2010 and a letter of commendation for his service during the World Meeting of Families in 2015…. He is survived by his mother, other relatives and friends.”

The public viewings are being held at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter & Paul cathedral at 18th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway, in Center City Philadelphia, beginning Thursday afternoon and continuing on Friday morning.

The viewings will be held at the Cathedral Basilica on Thursday, Jan. 11, 4:30-9 pm, and Friday, Jan. 12, from 9 a.m. until the funeral services begin at 11 am.

LeTourneau will be laid to rest at Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery in Springfield, Pennsylvania, after the funeral.

Thursday, Jan. 11 — 4:30 to 9 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 12 — 9 a.m.

Friday, Jan. 12 — 11 a.m.

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