TAMAQUA, Pa. — An American flag flew high over Route 309 in Tamaqua as the bodies of two volunteer firefighters were escorted back home to Lehigh County.
New Tripoli Assistant Fire Chief, 36-year-old Zachary Paris, and 59-year-old Marvin Gruber died during a fire they were fighting Wednesday afternoon in west Penn Township near Tamaqua.
The procession started at the Schuylkill County coroner's office in New Philadelphia and ended at the Lehigh County coroner's office.
Dozens of fire companies, EMS, and police from across the area, lined the procession route to pay their respects and say their goodbyes.
"When tragedy strikes, the brotherhood, the sisterhood, is there no matter what, no time of day, no matter the location. We stick behind each other," said Chief Steven Polischak, Coaldale Fire Company.
Police say the two firemen were searching the burning home for people reported to be trapped inside when multiple maydays were called.
They later died at the hospital from their injuries.
In a statement from the New Tripoli Fire Company:
"The community of fire company of New Tripoli is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of their two fire members in the line of duty. These members made the ultimate sacrifice to the community and country. They are truly heroes. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and loved ones. And please keep them in your thoughts and prayers."
Polischak and his firefighters responded to Wednesday's fire along with more than 100 first responders from across eastern Pennsylvania who were on the scene working to contain the fire.
"It could be Christmas. It could be New Year. It could be a birthday, it could be an anniversary. That pager goes off, we get toned out for a call, and were responding with good heart to protect the town and communities were sever. At a moment's notice, we will do anything for anybody, and I think that just speaks true volumes to what the brotherhood does," said Polischak.