Special Report | Firefighters healing through a tragedy
HARRISBURG, Pa. —
A late night fire on March 10, 2017, forever changed the lives of many of the men and women of the Harrisburg Bureau of fire.
"I’ll carry the ghost of that night forever,” Aldo Morellie, a Captain with the Harrisburg Bureau of Fire, says. “I’ve been able to talk more about it than in the past.”
The fire , which had been sparked by a hoverboard that was charging, ripped through a row home in the 2500 block of Lexington Street. The fire would ultimately end up claiming the lives of 2-year-old Ashanti Hughes and 10-year-old Savannah Dominick.
Blocks away from Lexington Street, Lieutenant Dennis Devoe, who was on his way back from the funeral of a fellow firefighter, was left fighting for his life after he was hit by a drunk driver.
“That was just so overwhelming for so many people,” Captain Morelli says. “Denny was very, very respected and very well loved here.”
At the time of the crash, Lieutenant Devoe was on his way to get his gear to help respond to the fire on Lexington Street. He would later die from injuries he sustained in the crash.
The series of tragic incidents still weighs heavy on the hearts and minds of the men and women of the Harrisburg Bureau of fire. While some are still in the healing process, the aftermath of the incident is an example of how work place culture and stigma surrounding mental health is evolving.
“We as firefighters, we tend not to talk about it. A lot of us are old school, you don’t seek help,” Firefighter Leon Cliatt, says. “We actually get a lot of support now. When I first came on, you just toughed it out, you pushed it down and kept going. Now there is a lot of help.”
“I’m able to remove myself and look back, I look at the heroic effort the guys did, I could only say we did our best that night and those guys would’ve given their lives to save those little girls,” Captain Morello, adds.