Ceremony honors fallen firefighters

NORTHERN CAMBRIA — The lives of two Patton firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty 50 years ago were remembered Friday.

In a ceremony at the newly refurbished Spangler Fire Memorial, fallen firefighters Frank Kinkead and John DeDea were honored for their heroic efforts on Jan. 1, 1971.

“It is important to never forget and always remember the ultimate sacrifice that these brave men made on that fateful day in 1971,” said former Pennsylvania Fire Commissioner Ed Mann, who was the event’s keynote speaker.

The service was part of the 100th annual Cambria County Regional Firefighters’ Association Convention, which has been hosted by the Patton Fire Company No. 1 and concludes Sunday.

The lives of all firefighters who died in the past year were remembered, and a ceremony was held to remember the lives of DeDea, Kinkead and Paul Short.

“This is typically a time of remembrance for firefighters across the county who passed this year,” Patton Fire Company Assistant Chief Jerry Brant said. “But for us at the Patton Fire Company, this marks 50 years since we lost two of our firefighters. It holds a special meaning for all of us.”

The service was held on the site of the tragic fire in 1971 that killed DeDea and Kinkead. Another firefighter, Paul Short, faced life-altering injuries in the blaze and succumbed to his injuries years later.

The blaze on Bigler Avenue consumed three buildings, with fire roaring through Weaver’s Variety Store, the Spangler Theatre and a third building.

Firefighters from across Cambria County responded, and upon arriving on scene, DeDea and Kinkead relieved two Spangler firefighters fighting fire from the top of the ladder.

Paul Short and his brother, John, who were also members of the Patton Fire Company, remained at the bottom of the ladder.

DeDea and Kinkead were fighting fire from the top of the ladder when conditions escalated. The front of the building collapsed as the fire grew larger, crushing the pair under the wall.

They were pronounced dead at the scene.

The Short brothers were injured in the incident as well, and Paul Short was left paralyzed from the waist down.

More than 100 firefighters across Cambria County convened at the ceremony Friday to remember the lives of the fallen.

Event organizers also unveiled the new Spangler Fire Memorial, which recently received several upgrades since being erected in 1976.

Spangler Fire Chief Jay Nagle said old brick was repointed, and the cement tops of the memorial were replaced with new limestone.

Mirror Staff Writer Calem Illig is at 814-946-7535.


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