last time the Toledo Fire Department has had to deal with the loss of multiple
firefighters in one incident was over 50 years ago.
firefighter Don Riddle nearly lost his life in the deadly Anthony Wayne Trail
fire in 1961. He still remembers the pain of losing four fellow firefighters in
that fire, and he feels the pain of the department now, as they deal with the
loss of Privates Stephen Machcinski and Jamie Dickman, who died in a fire on
flag is at half-staff in front of Riddle's home, and below it are two yellow
flowers, one for each of Sunday's fallen heroes. Riddle's helmet also sits
there, but it's actually a replacement. His original helmet was destroyed in
the Anthony Wayne Trail fire more than 50 years ago.
will never forget the day we left the engine house and saw the enormous black
cloud of smoke in the sky down on the Trail, and we thought, ‘What are we
getting ourselves into here?'" Riddle said. "We just did normally what we
usually do. We laid lines and tried to get water on it, but before that
happened, it blew up in our faces."
says he thinks of that fire and his four lost brothers every day. Learning of
the passing of Dickman and Machcinski hit close to home.
was déjà vu all over again," he said. "It seemed like it was happening all over
again, and I never thought that it would be happening again."
says he understands what Toledo firefighters are going through now, and while
he has been retired since 1989, Riddle plans to pay his respects to his lost
brothers at Wednesday night's service at the Historic Church of St. Patrick. The
service will be held at 5:30 p.m. and there will be another Sunday at 10 a.m.
says once a fireman, always a fireman.
don't take the firefighters for granted," he said. "They're good servants for
the city, as have been shown over the last couple of days, and be proud of
To see what you can do to help Toledo firefighters or the families of Machcinski and Dickman, click here.