CHICAGO (WLS) — Two families and the Chicago Fire Department were grieving together Wednesday morning.
A prayer vigil was held at Engine 94 in Portage Park, where fallen firefighter Mashawn Plummer, 30, was assigned.
A large crowd gathered in the bitter cold to remember him and Eladio Gomez, 37, who were both killed in a Belmont Central fire last week.
It was so much more than just a prayer vigil: Plummer’s family, friends, colleagues and even complete strangers from the neighborhood came together to pay tribute.
The firehouse on Grace Street was decked out in purple bunting.
Plummer was assigned there when the call came out last Thursday of a roaring fire in the 3100-block of North Marmora Avenue.
He died earlier this week after being critically injured in the blaze.
His mother remembered him for his determination, his love for his family and love for serving others.
“I am grateful for the service that he was able to do. His heart, he did that job because of his heart,” Felicia Townsend said. “From the moment he got that letter saying it was time to report to the training academy, he was so overjoyed. He told me, ‘This is my time to make a difference.'”
Jermaine Plummer, his father, said he was always proud of his son.
“Became a fireman, he knew what he wanted to do, he wanted to move up in the ranks, even being the chief. He had goals, big goals,” he said.
The last line-of-duty deaths in the department were two firefighters who died of COVID-19 last year.
Edward Singleton, a 33-year veteran of the department, died April 14 from complications of COVID-19. The 55-year-old worked at the firehouse at Midway Airport and leaves behind a wife and two adult children.
One week earlier, Mario Araujo became the first firefighter of the department to die from the coronavirus. Araujo, 47, joined the fire department in October 2003 and spent most of his career on Truck 25, which operates out of Engine 102 in Rogers Park on the North Side. He was single.
In May of 2018, diver Juan Bucio died while searching for a missing boater in the Chicago River. Bucio, 46, lost contact with his dive partner during the search. Bucio was briefly a Chicago police officer before joining CFD, moving to the dive team as soon as he could.
Plummer is survived by his mother, father and four sisters.
Gomez’s family said two incredible men were lost in the fire, and both will not be forgotten.
“He was an amazing person,” his sister Nicole Gomez said. “He loved to fish, and he loved playing video games and he loved to eat; he loved his nieces. He was making a huge difference in this world.”
Gomez hadn’t lived in that home for very long, and Plummer was only on the job a year: Both men were taken too soon.
Two people injured in the blaze remain hospitalized in critical condition.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated.
Sun-Times Media contributed to this report.
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